Demystifying bitwise operations, a gentle C tutorial #Programming
Andrei Ciobanu provides a thorough tutorial on using bitwise operations on data in C:
Bitwise operations are a fundamental part of Computer Science. They help Software Engineers to have a deeper understanding of how computers represent and manipulate data, and they are crucial when writing performance-critical code. Truth being said, nowadays, they are rarely used in the business code we write, and they stay hidden in libraries, frameworks, or low-level system programming codebases.
The reason is simple: writing code that operates on bits can be tedious, less readable, not always portable, and, most importantly, error-prone. Modern programming languages nowadays have higher-level abstractions that replace the need for bitwise operations and “constructs”, and trading (potential) small performance and memory gains for readability is not such a bad deal. Plus, compilers are more intelligent nowadays and can optimise your code in ways you (and I) cannot even imagine.
The article is not about why we shouldn’t ever touch them; on the contrary, it is about why they are cool and how they can make specific code snippets orders of magnitude faster than the “higher-level-readable-modern approach”. If you are a programmer who enjoys competitive programming, knowing bitwise operations (in case you don’t know about them already) will help you write more efficient code.
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