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Ever wondered how to manipulate the bits around in your code directly? Or, maybe you’re interested in how low-level operations work in Python. These are questions that pop up quite often when covering programming a bit more advanced.

Bitwise operators in Python provide operations at the bit level and are very powerful tools for special tasks where one needs efficient and exact control over binary data. We will delve deeper into the land of bitwise operators, showing how they could make our code more effective and efficient.

The bitwise AND operator compares each bit of two integers and returns a new integer with bits set to 1 only when both corresponding bits are 1. This is often used in masking operations, especially wherever isolating specific bits is required within an integer.

**Code Example**

**Output:**

The bitwise OR operator makes a bit-by-bit comparison between two integers and returns a new integer with bits set to 1 where at least one of the corresponding bits in comparison is 1. This is useful when we want to turn certain bits within an integer into 1 without affecting the other bits.

**Code Example**

**Output:**

The bitwise NOT operator inverts all the bits in an integer: 1 changes to 0, and 0 changes to 1. This operator may be helpful in such operations that require flipping all the bits in a binary representation.

**Code Example**

**Output:**

The bitwise XOR operator compares each of the corresponding bits of two integers and returns a new integer that has most of those bits set to 1 only when one of the corresponding bits is 1. This operator can be readily used to toggle certain bits within an integer.

**Code Example**

**Output:**

The left shift operator shifts the bits of an integer to the left by the specified number of positions, filling its rightmost bits with zeros. This operator is equivalent to multiplying the integer by 2, raised to the power of the number of positions shifted.

**Code Example**

**Output:**

The right shift operator shifts the bits of an integer to the right by a specified number of positions, ordinarily discarding the rightmost; this is equivalent to integer division by 2 raised to the power of the positions shifted.

**Code Example**

**Output:**

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Ever wondered if you could customise how bitwise operators in Python work with your objects? The good news is that we can do that in Python.

By using operator overloading, we can define how our custom classes behave with bitwise operators like &, |, ~, and ^.

Python allows us to redefine the behaviour of operators for user-defined classes.

We do this by defining special methods in our class.

For bitwise operators, the methods are:

- __and__ for &
- __or__ for |
- __xor__ for ^
- __invert__ for ~
- __lshift__ for <<
- __rshift__ for >>

Let’s create a class that represents a simple binary number and overloads the bitwise operators in Python.

class BinaryNumber:

**Output:**

Also Read: Arithmetic Operators in Python

You might wonder, where do we actually use bitwise operators in real life? Bitwise operators in Python are incredibly useful in several areas.

When dealing with file I/O, image processing, or cryptography, bitwise operations can help manipulate binary data efficiently.

In embedded systems, resources are limited. Bitwise operations allow for precise control over hardware peripherals and configuration registers.

Network applications often involve IP address manipulation. Bitwise operators are essential for subnet masking and CIDR notation.

In graphics, bitwise operations are used to manipulate pixel values, apply filters, and create visual effects.

Game developers use bitwise operations for tasks like collision detection and game state management. These operations help optimise performance and enhance the visual appeal of games.

Bitwise operators in Python are strong features that let one work directly with binary data. Using such operators, we can further optimise our code to be more efficient by performing complex operations with much better speed.

Be it data manipulation, embedded systems, networking, graphics, or game development; bitwise operators become essential when one needs to exert fine-grained control or facilitate performance optimisation. Let’s continue exploring and leveraging these operators to take our programming skills to the next level.

FAQs

What are Python's bitwise operators, and why are they key?

The bitwise operators in Python do operations at the bit level on integers; they become important when tasks such as those require efficient and precise control over binary data.

How does the bitwise AND operator work, and where can it be used?

The bitwise AND operator compares each set of corresponding bits of two integers and returns a new integer with those bits set to 1 only if the corresponding bit of both integers is 1. It's useful for masking operations and setting specific bits to 0.

Can Python's bitwise operators work with non-integral types?

No, bitwise operators are primarily oriented at integer types. But, we can define our own behaviour for the bitwise operations in our classes by overloading the respective operators.

What is the difference between the left shift (<<) and right shift (>>) operators?

The left shift operator shifts the bits towards the left. It might be thought of as multiplying an integer by 2 to a power equal to the number of positions shifted.
The right shift operator shifts the bits towards the right. It might be thought of as an integer division by 2 to a power equal to the number of positions shifted.

How do we write an efficient use of bitwise operators—both in coding and performance optimisation aspects?

Bitwise operators allow for efficient manipulation of individual bits, making them useful for tasks like binary data manipulation, flag settings, and low-level data processing. They help optimise code by reducing the need for more complex arithmetic operations.

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