Python Language Bitwise NOT


Example

The ~ operator will flip all of the bits in the number. Since computers use signed number representations — most notably, the two's complement notation to encode negative binary numbers where negative numbers are written with a leading one (1) instead of a leading zero (0).

This means that if you were using 8 bits to represent your two's-complement numbers, you would treat patterns from 0000 0000 to 0111 1111 to represent numbers from 0 to 127 and reserve 1xxx xxxx to represent negative numbers.

Eight-bit two's-complement numbers

BitsUnsigned ValueTwo's-complement Value
0000 000000
0000 000111
0000 001022
0111 1110126126
0111 1111127127
1000 0000128-128
1000 0001129-127
1000 0010130-126
1111 1110254-2
1111 1111255-1

In essence, this means that whereas 1010 0110 has an unsigned value of 166 (arrived at by adding (128 * 1) + (64 * 0) + (32 * 1) + (16 * 0) + (8 * 0) + (4 * 1) + (2 * 1) + (1 * 0)), it has a two's-complement value of -90 (arrived at by adding (128 * 1) - (64 * 0) - (32 * 1) - (16 * 0) - (8 * 0) - (4 * 1) - (2 * 1) - (1 * 0), and complementing the value).

In this way, negative numbers range down to -128 (1000 0000). Zero (0) is represented as 0000 0000, and minus one (-1) as 1111 1111.

In general, though, this means ~n = -n - 1.

# 0 = 0b0000 0000
~0
# Out: -1
# -1 = 0b1111 1111
    
# 1 = 0b0000 0001
~1
# Out: -2
# -2 = 1111 1110

# 2 = 0b0000 0010
~2
# Out: -3
# -3 = 0b1111 1101

# 123 = 0b0111 1011
~123
# Out: -124
# -124 = 0b1000 0100

Note, the overall effect of this operation when applied to positive numbers can be summarized:

~n -> -|n+1|

And then, when applied to negative numbers, the corresponding effect is:

~-n -> |n-1|

The following examples illustrate this last rule...

# -0 = 0b0000 0000
~-0
# Out: -1 
# -1 = 0b1111 1111
# 0 is the obvious exception to this rule, as -0 == 0 always
    
# -1 = 0b1000 0001
~-1
# Out: 0
# 0 = 0b0000 0000

# -2 = 0b1111 1110
~-2
# Out: 1
# 1 = 0b0000 0001

# -123 = 0b1111 1011
~-123
# Out: 122
# 122 = 0b0111 1010