Dillydill123 Dillydill123 - 11 months ago 53
C++ Question

Why does masking a negative number produce a positive number?

in c++, I have the following code:

int x = -3;
x &= 0xffff;
cout << x;

This produces


But if I remove the negative, so I have this:

int x = 3;
x &= 0xffff;
cout << x;

I simply get
as a result

Why does the first result not produce a negative number? I would expect that -3 would be sign extended to 16 bits, which should still give a twos complement negative number, considering all those extended bits would be 1. Consequently the most significant bit would be 1 too.

Answer Source

It looks like your system uses 32-bit ints with two's complement representation of negatives.

Constant 0xFFFF covers the least significant two bytes, with the upper two bytes are zero.

The value of -3 is 0xFFFFFFFD, so masking it with 0x0000FFFF you get 0x0000FFFD, or 65533 in decimal.

Positive 3 is 0x00000003, so masking with 0x0000FFFF gives you 3 back.

You would get the result that you expect if you specify 16-bit data type, e.g.

int16_t x = -3;
x &= 0xffff;
cout << x;