Bitwise operations are really useful and fast for storing and operate on certain values. They are way more used in systems where resources are more limited like video-games or embedded devices.

In this first article about bitwise operations, we get a quick introduction to them with a drawing (new format!) and some written content but I plan on sharing more 🙂.

What are bitwise operations?

They’re operations that deal with bits directly. Bits are 1s and 0s and it’s how everything is stored internally in a computer so being able to operate with them directly is very efficient because the processor is able to do those operations natively. Wikipedia says:

…typically, bitwise operations are substantially faster than division, several times faster than multiplication, and sometimes significantly faster than addition…

The three basic operators

There are more but let’s take a look today at the three most basic operators:


NOT is very simple, if there’s a 1 we get 0. If there’s a 0, we get 1.

It’s represented by ~ in most programming languages so for example: ~0101011 = 1010100.


AND is like the boolean equivalent you already use in if conditions but with one difference, this operates at the level of bits:

1 & 1 = 1
1 & 0 = 0
0 & 1 = 0
0 & 0 = 0


The same goes for the OR operation, represented with the | symbol in many programming languages.

1 | 1 = 1
1 | 0 = 1
0 | 1 = 1
0 | 0 = 0

How they operate with more than 1 bit

The key here is to remember that when we have a bitwise operation with more than 1 bit, we do it bit by bit. For example:

// Bitwise OR

Or in an AND operation:

// Bitwise AND

Example to show how to use them:

Intro to bitwise Full drawing here