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Left Shift and Right Shift Operators in C/C++

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Left Shift(<<)

It is a binary operator that takes two numbers, left shifts the bits of the first operand, and the second operand decides the number of places to shift. In other words, left-shifting an integer “a” with an integer “b” denoted as ‘(a<<b)’ is equivalent to multiplying a with 2^b (2 raised to power b). 

Syntax:

a << b;
  • a: First Operand
  • b: Second Operand

Example: Let’s take a=5; which is 101 in Binary Form. Now, if “a is left-shifted by 2” i.e a=a<<2 then a will become a=a*(2^2). Thus, a=5*(2^2)=20 which can be written as 10100.

left shift operator function

 

C

// C Program to demonstrate use
// of left shift  operator
#include <stdio.h>
 
// Driver code
int main()
{
    // a = 5(00000101), b = 9(00001001)
    unsigned char a = 5, b = 9;
 
    // The result is 00001010
    printf("a<<1 = %d\n", (a << 1));
 
    // The result is 00010010
    printf("b<<1 = %d", (b << 1));
    return 0;
}

                    

C++

// C++ Program to demonstrate use
// of left shift  operator
#include <iostream>
using namespace std;
 
// Driver code
int main()
{
    // a = 5(00000101), b = 9(00001001)
    unsigned char a = 5, b = 9;
 
    // The result is 00001010
    cout << "a<<1 = " << (a << 1) << endl;
 
    // The result is 00010010
    cout << "b<<1 = " << (b << 1) << endl;
    return 0;
}

                    

Output
a<<1 = 10
b<<1 = 18

Right Shift(>>)

It is a binary operator that takes two numbers, right shifts the bits of the first operand, and the second operand decides the number of places to shift. In other words, right-shifting an integer “a” with an integer “b” denoted as ‘(a>>b)‘ is equivalent to dividing a with 2^b. 

Syntax:

a >> b;
  • a: First Operand
  • b: Second Operand

Example: let’s take a=5; which is 101 in Binary Form. Now, if “a is right-shifted by 2i.e a=a>>2 then a will become a=a/(2^2). Thus, a=a/(2^2)=1 which can be written as 01.

right shift operator function

 

C

// C Program to demonstrate
// use of right-shift operator
#include <stdio.h>
 
// Driver code
int main()
{
    // a = 5(00000101), b = 9(00001001)
    unsigned char a = 5, b = 9;
 
    // The result is 00000010
    printf("a>>1 = %d\n", (a >> 1));
 
    // The result is 00000100
    printf("b>>1 = %d", (b >> 1));
 
    return 0;
}

                    

C++

// C++ Program to demonstrate
// use of right-shift operator
#include <iostream>
using namespace std;
 
// Driver code
int main()
{
    // a = 5(00000101), b = 9(00001001)
    unsigned char a = 5, b = 9;
 
    // The result is 00000010
    cout << "a>>1 = " << (a >> 1) << endl;
 
    // The result is 00000100
    cout << "b>>1 = " << (b >> 1) << endl;
 
    return 0;
}

                    

Output
a>>1 = 2
b>>1 = 4

Important Points

1. The left-shift and right-shift operators should not be used for negative numbers. The result of is undefined behavior if any of the operands is a negative number. For example results of both 1 >> -1 and 1 << -1 is undefined.

C

// C program to show behaviour of shift operators for
// negative values
#include <stdio.h>
 
int main()
{
    // left shift for negative value
    printf("2 << -5 = %d\n", (2 << -5));
 
    //    right shift for negative value
    printf("2 >> -5 = %d", (2 >> -5));
 
    return 0;
}

                    

C++

// C++ program to show behaviour of shift operators for
// negative values
#include <iostream>
 
using namespace std;
 
int main()
{
    // left shift for negative value
    cout << "2 << -5 = " << (2 << -5) << endl;
 
    //    right shift for negative value
    cout << "2 >> -5 = " << (2 >> -5) << endl;
 
    return 0;
}

                    

Output
2 << -5 = 0
2 >> -5 = 64

2. If the number is shifted more than the size of the integer, the behavior is undefined. For example, 1 << 33 is undefined if integers are stored using 32 bits. For bit shift of larger values 1ULL<<62  ULL is used for Unsigned Long Long which is defined using 64 bits that can store large values.

C

//    c program to demonstrate the behaviour of bitwise
// shift operators for large values
#include <stdio.h>
 
int main()
{
    int N = 3;
 
    // left shift of 65 digits
    printf("3 << 65 = %d", (3 << 65));
 
    return 0;
}

                    

C++

//    c++ program to demonstrate the behaviour of bitwise
// shift operators for large values
#include <iostream>
 
using namespace std;
 
int main()
{
    int N = 3;
 
    // left shift by 65 digits
    cout << "3 << 65" << (3 << 65) << endl;
 
    return 0;
}

                    

Output
3 << 65 = 0

3. The left-shift by 1 and right-shift by 1 are equivalent to the product of the first term and 2 to the power given element(1<<3 = 1*pow(2,3)) and division of the first term and second term raised to power 2 (1>>3 = 1/pow(2,3)) respectively. 

C

// C program for the above approach
 
#include <math.h>
#include <stdio.h>
 
int main()
{
    printf("2^5 using pow() function: %.0f\n", pow(2, 5));
    printf("2^5 using left shift: %d\n", (1 << 5));
    return 0;
}
 
// This code is contributed Prince Kumar

                    

C++

// C++ program to get the shifted values using pow()
#include <cmath>
#include <iostream>
 
using namespace std;
 
int main()
{
    cout << "2^5 using pow() function" << pow(2, 5) << endl;
 
    cout << "2^5 using leftshift" << (1 << 5) << endl;
 
    return 0;
}

                    

Output
2^5 using pow() function: 32
2^5 using left shift: 32

Must Read: Bitwise Operators in C/C++



Last Updated : 04 Sep, 2023
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