A shift operator will shift the bits by a number of positions . In java we have three shift operators , they are

- The right shift signed operator
`>>`

, which shift the bits to the right , while keeping the sign bit. So if the sign bit is 1 , it is kept as 1 and if the sign bit is 0 it is kept as 0 . - the right shift unsigned operator
`>>>`

, which shift the bits to the right keeping a sign bit of 0 , as such it is called unsigned . - the left shift operator
`<<`

, which shift the bits to the left and it doesn't care what the sign bit becomes . So it can become 0 or 1 .

we can shift by either a positive number of by a negative number.

2 << 1 3 >> -1

the number we shift by is converted to bits , and we take

- the 5 lowest bit in case the type before the shift operator is an int or is promoted to an int .
- the lowest 6 bit in case the type before the shift operator is a long .

So the maximum number that we can shift by for an int or for a type that can be promoted to an int is 31 bits , and the maximum number of bits that we can shift by for a long is 61 bits .

Table of Contents

## The right signed shift operator >>

the right signed shift operator keeps the sign bit .

- If the number is positive , its bits are shifted to the right by the provided number of bits . The shifted bits are replaced by zero .
- if the number is negative ,its bits are shifted to the right by the provided number of bits. The shifted bits are replaced by 1 .

To understand this better let us see some examples . we will do shifting by using 4 bits .

Bits Bits example Number 3 2 1 0 shift 3 2 1 0 Number 1 7 0 1 1 1 >>1 0 0 1 1 3 2 7 0 1 1 1 >>2 0 0 0 1 1 3 7 0 1 1 1 >>3 0 0 0 0 0 4 5 0 1 0 1 >>1 0 0 1 0 2 5 -1 1 1 1 1 >>1 1 1 1 1 -1 6 -1 1 1 1 1 >>2 1 1 1 1 -1 7 -8 1 0 0 0 >>1 1 1 0 0 -4 8 -8 1 0 0 0 >>2 1 1 1 0 -2 9 -3 1 1 0 1 >>1 1 1 1 0 -2

- in the first example , we are shifting a positive number 7 . Its bits are shifted by 1 position . So bits at position 3 , 2 , 1 , 0 are shifted by 1 . Bit 3 become bit 2 , bit 2 become bit 1 , bit 1 become bit 0 , and bit 0 is dropped . The shifted bits are replaced by zero , as such bit 3 or the sign bit becomes 0 and The result is 3 . Shifting a positive number is equivalent to dividing by 2 and keeping only the integral part of the division .
- in the second example , we are shifting the bits of 7 by two position . So position 3 becomes position 1 , and positions 2 becomes position 0 and position 1 and 0 are dropped . In the place of the shifted position we place zeros . Hence the result is 1.
- in the fifth example , we have a negative number which is -1 . We shift its bits by 1 . As such bits at position 3, 2 , 1 , 0 are shifted to the right . Position 0 is dropped , and the shifted positions are replaced by 1 , so we end up with -1 .
- in the six example , the negative number -1 is shifted by 2 positions . So position 0 and 1 are dropped and position 3 and 2 will take the position 1 and 0 respectively . The shifted bits are replaced by 1 , as such the result of the shifting is -1

import static java.lang.System.out; class RightSignedShiftOperator { public static void rightSignedShiftOperator() { /* right signed shift operator */ out.println(String.format("%d >> 1 = %d ", Integer.MAX_VALUE, Integer.MAX_VALUE >> 1)); /* right signed Shift Integer max value which is 2147483647 by 1 bit output : 2147483647 >> 1 = 1073741823 */ out.println(String.format("%d >> 30 = %d ", Integer.MAX_VALUE, Integer.MAX_VALUE >> 30)); /* right signed Shift Integer max value which is 2147483647 by 30 bits output : 2147483647 >> 30 = 1 */ out.println(String.format("%d >> 31 = %d ", Integer.MAX_VALUE, Integer.MAX_VALUE >> 31)); /* right signed Shift Integer max value which is 2147483647 by 31 bits output : 2147483647 >> 31 = 0 */ out.println(String.format("%d >> 1 = %d ", Integer.MAX_VALUE - 2, (Integer.MAX_VALUE - 2) >> 1)); /* right signed Shift (Integer max value - 2 ) which is 2147483645 by 1 bit output : 2147483645 >> 1 = 1073741822 */ out.println(String.format("%d >> 1 = %d ", -1, -1 >> 1)); /* right signed Shift -1 by 1 bit output : -1 >> 1 = -1 */ out.println(String.format("%d >> 2 = %d ", -1, -1 >> 2)); /* right signed Shift -1 by 2 bits output : -1 >> 2 = -1 */ out.println(String.format("%d >> 1 = %d ", Integer.MIN_VALUE, Integer.MIN_VALUE >> 1)); /* right signed Shift integer min value which is -2147483648 by 1 bit output : -2147483648 >> 1 = -1073741824 */ out.println(String.format("%d >> 2 = %d ", Integer.MIN_VALUE, Integer.MIN_VALUE >> 2)); /* right signed Shift integer min value which is -2147483648 by 2 bits output : -2147483648 >> 2 = -536870912 */ out.println(String.format("%d >> 1 = %d ", Integer.MIN_VALUE + 5, (Integer.MIN_VALUE + 5) >> 1)); /* right signed Shift (integer min value + 5 ) which is -2147483643 by 1 bits output : -2147483643 >> 1 = -1073741822 */ } public static void main(String[] args) { rightSignedShiftOperator(); } }

## The right unsigned shift operator >>>

The right unsigned shift operator will shift the bits of a number by the specified value , and it will replace the shifted bits by a zero . So it is just as if we are keeping a sign bit of zero, as such it is called unsigned .

Bits Bits example Number 3 2 1 0 shift 3 2 1 0 Number 1 7 0 1 1 1 >>>1 0 0 1 1 3 2 7 0 1 1 1 >>>2 0 0 0 1 1 3 7 0 1 1 1 >>>3 0 0 0 0 0 4 5 0 1 0 1 >>>1 0 0 1 0 2 5 -1 1 1 1 1 >>>1 0 1 1 1 7 6 -1 1 1 1 1 >>>2 0 0 1 1 4 7 -8 1 0 0 0 >>>1 0 1 0 0 7 8 -8 1 0 0 0 >>>2 0 0 1 0 2 9 -3 1 1 0 1 >>>1 0 1 0 1 5

- in the first example we are shifting the number 7 by one position . As such bits 3,2,1,0 are shifted by 1 position . The bit at position 0 is dropped , and the shifted bits are replaced by 0 . hence 7 will become 3 . When shifting a positive number the unsigned shift operator act the same as the signed shift operator .
- in the second example , the result is 1 .
- in the third example , the result is 0 .
- in the fifth example we are shifting the negative number -1 by one position . so bits at position 3 , 2 ,1 ,0 are shifted by one position . Bit at position zero is dropped and the shifted bits are replaced by 0 . As such the result of the shifting is 7 .

import static java.lang.System.out; class RightUnsignedShiftOperator { public static void rightUnsignedShiftOperator() { /* right unsigned shift operator */ out.println(String.format("%d >>> 1 = %d ", Integer.MAX_VALUE, Integer.MAX_VALUE >>> 1)); /* right unsigned Shift Integer max value which is 2147483647 by 1 bit output : 2147483647 >>> 1 = 1073741823 */ out.println(String.format("%d >>> 30 = %d ", Integer.MAX_VALUE, Integer.MAX_VALUE >>> 30)); /* right unsigned Shift Integer max value which is 2147483647 by 30 bits output : 2147483647 >>> 30 = 1 */ out.println(String.format("%d >>> 31 = %d ", Integer.MAX_VALUE, Integer.MAX_VALUE >>> 31)); /* right unsigned Shift Integer max value which is 2147483647 by 31 bits output : 2147483647 >>> 31 = 0 */ out.println(String.format("%d >>> 1 = %d ", Integer.MAX_VALUE - 2, (Integer.MAX_VALUE - 2) >> 1)); /* right unsigned Shift (Integer max value - 2 ) which is 2147483645 by 1 bit output : 2147483645 >>> 1 = 1073741822 */ out.println(String.format("%d >>> 1 = %d ", -1, -1 >>> 1)); /* right unsigned Shift -1 by 1 bit output : -1 >>> 1 = 2147483647 */ out.println(String.format("%d >>> 2 = %d ", -1, -1 >>> 2)); /* right unsigned Shift -1 by 2 bits output : -1 >>> 2 = 1073741823 */ out.println(String.format("%d >>> 1 = %d ", Integer.MIN_VALUE, Integer.MIN_VALUE >>> 1)); /* right unsigned Shift integer min value which is -2147483648 by 1 bit output : -2147483648 >>> 1 = 1073741824 */ out.println(String.format("%d >>> 2 = %d ", Integer.MIN_VALUE, Integer.MIN_VALUE >>> 2)); /* right unsigned Shift integer min value which is -2147483648 by 2 bits output : -2147483648 >>> 2 = 536870912 */ out.println(String.format("%d >>> 1 = %d ", Integer.MIN_VALUE + 5, (Integer.MIN_VALUE + 5) >>> 1)); /* right unsigned Shift (integer min value + 5 ) which is -2147483643 by 1 bits output : -2147483643 >>> 1 = 1073741826 */ } public static void main(String[] args) { rightUnsignedShiftOperator(); } }

## The left shift operator <<

The left shift operator will just shift the bits of a number to the left by the specified value . The shifted bits are replaced by a zero .

Bits Bits example Number 3 2 1 0 shift 3 2 1 0 Number 1 7 0 1 1 1 <<1 1 1 1 0 -2 2 7 0 1 1 1 <<2 1 1 0 0 -4 3 7 0 1 1 1 <<3 1 0 0 0 -8 4 5 0 1 0 1 <<1 1 0 1 0 -6 5 -1 1 1 1 1 <<1 1 1 1 0 -1 6 -1 1 1 1 1 <<2 1 1 0 0 -4 7 -8 1 0 0 0 <<1 0 0 0 0 0 8 -8 1 0 0 0 <<2 0 0 0 0 0 9 -3 1 1 0 1 <<1 1 0 1 0 -6

- In the first example , we have a positive number 7 which is shifted by 1 place , as such bits in position 3 , 2 , 1 , 0 are shifted to the left by 1 position . Hence bit 3 is dropped , and replaced by bit 2 , bit 2 by bit 1 , bit 1 by bit 0 and bit 0 is replaced by a zero . hence the result is -2 .
- in the six example , we are shifting the bits of the number -1 by 2 position . Hence bits 3 and 2 are dropped and replaced by bits 1 and 0 . Bits 1 and 0 are replaced by a zero , and the result is -4 .

import static java.lang.System.out; class LeftShiftOperator { public static void leftShiftOperator() { /* left shift operator */ out.println(String.format("%d << 1 = %d ", Integer.MAX_VALUE, Integer.MAX_VALUE << 1)); /* left Shift Integer max value which is 2147483647 by 1 bit output : 2147483647 << 1 = -2 */ out.println(String.format("%d << 30 = %d ", Integer.MAX_VALUE, Integer.MAX_VALUE << 30)); /* left Shift Integer max value which is 2147483647 by 30 bits output : 2147483647 << 30 = -1073741824 */ out.println(String.format("%d << 31 = %d ", Integer.MAX_VALUE, Integer.MAX_VALUE << 31)); /* left Shift Integer max value which is 2147483647 by 31 bits output : 2147483647 << 31 = -2147483648 */ out.println(String.format("%d << 1 = %d ", Integer.MAX_VALUE - 2, (Integer.MAX_VALUE - 2) << 1)); /* left Shift (Integer max value - 2 ) which is 2147483645 by 1 bit output : 2147483645 << 1 = -6 */ out.println(String.format("%d << 1 = %d ", -1, -1 << 1)); /* left Shift -1 by 1 bit output : -1 << 1 = -2 */ out.println(String.format("%d << 2 = %d ", -1, -1 << 2)); /* left Shift -1 by 2 bits output : -1 << 2 = -4 */ out.println(String.format("%d << 1 = %d ", Integer.MIN_VALUE, Integer.MIN_VALUE << 1)); /* left Shift integer min value which is -2147483648 by 1 bit output : -2147483648 << 1 = 0 */ out.println(String.format("%d << 2 = %d ", Integer.MIN_VALUE, Integer.MIN_VALUE << 2)); /* left Shift integer min value which is -2147483648 by 2 bits output : -2147483648 << 2 = 0 */ out.println(String.format("%d << 1 = %d ", Integer.MIN_VALUE + 5, (Integer.MIN_VALUE + 5) << 1)); /* left Shift (integer min value + 5 ) which is -2147483643 by 1 bits output : -2147483643 << 1 = 10 */ } public static void main(String[] args) { leftShiftOperator(); } }

## shifting by a number larger or equal to the number of bits , and by a negative number

When we are shifting the bits , we specify the value that we want to shift by . The value that is actually taken is

- the last five bits of the specified value , when the number to shift is an integer or can be promoted to an integer . As such we can shift by a value between 0 and 31 inclusive .
- the last six bits of the specified value , when the number to shift is a long . A such we can shift by a value between 0 and 63 .

import static java.lang.System.out; class ShiftNegativeLarge { public static void shiftNegativeLarge() { long aLongNumber = 1L; /* a long number can be shift by a value between 0 and 63 if we specify a larger or a negative value only the last 6 bits are taken */ out.println(String.format("%d << 1 = %d ", aLongNumber, aLongNumber << -1)); /* we are shifting by -1 -1 is 1111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 we take the last 6 bits which are 111111 as such we must shift 1L left by 63 , 1L is 0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 will become 1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 output : 1 << 1 = -9223372036854775808 */ short aShortValue = 1; /* a short value will be promoted to an int when shifting , as such the min value and max values that we can shift by are 0 and 31 */ out.println(String.format("%d << 31 = %d ", aShortValue, aShortValue << 31)); /* aShortValue is promoted to an int 00000000000000000000000000000001 and shifted by 31 bits 10000000000000000000000000000000 output : 1 << 31 = -2147483648 */ out.println(String.format("%d << 31 = %d ", aShortValue, (short) (aShortValue << 31))); /* aShortValue is promoted to an int 00000000000000000000000000000001 and shifted by 31 bits 10000000000000000000000000000000 after that the result is cast to a short , so we truncate the bits larger than bit 0000000000000000 output : 1 << 31 = 0 */ aShortValue = 1; out.println(String.format("%d << 121 = %d ", aShortValue, (aShortValue << 121))); /* aShortValue is promoted to an int we are shifting by 121 121 is : 00000000000000000000000001111001 we take the last 5 bits which are : 11001 and they are in decimal 25 , so we are shifting by 25 and the result is 00000010000000000000000000000000 in binary which is 2 to the power 25 so the result is 33554432 output : 1 << 121 = 33554432 */ } public static void main(String[] args) { shiftNegativeLarge(); } }