Fry Fry - 2 months ago 6
Python Question

What does the caret operator (^) in Python do?

I ran across the caret operator in python today and trying it out, I got the following output:

>>> 8^3
11
>>> 8^4
12
>>> 8^1
9
>>> 8^0
8
>>> 7^1
6
>>> 7^2
5
>>> 7^7
0
>>> 7^8
15
>>> 9^1
8
>>> 16^1
17
>>> 15^1
14
>>>


It seems to be based on 8, so I'm guessing some sort of byte operation? I can't seem to find much about this searching sites other than it behaves oddly for floats, does anybody have a link to what this operator does or can you explain it here?

Answer

It's a bitwise XOR (exclusive OR).

It results to true if one (and only one) of the operands (evaluates to) true.

To demonstrate:

>>> 0^0
0
>>> 1^1
0
>>> 1^0
1
>>> 0^1
1

To explain one of your own examples:

>>> 8^3
11

Think about it this way:

1000  # 8 (binary)
0011  # 3 (binary)
----  # APPLY XOR ('vertically')
1011  # result = 11 (binary)
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