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^

[Bitwise Operators]

Description

There is a somewhat unusual operator in C++ called bitwise EXCLUSIVE OR, also known as bitwise XOR. (In English this is usually pronounced "eks-or".) The bitwise XOR operator is written using the caret symbol ^. A bitwise XOR operation results in a 1 only if the input bits are different, else it results in a 0.

Precisely,

0  0  1  1    operand1
0  1  0  1    operand2
----------
0  1  1  0    (operand1 ^ operand2) - returned result

Example Code

int x = 12;     // binary: 1100
int y = 10;     // binary: 1010
int z = x ^ y;  // binary: 0110, or decimal 6

The ^ operator is often used to toggle (i.e. change from 0 to 1, or 1 to 0) some of the bits in an integer expression. In a bitwise XOR operation if there is a 1 in the mask bit, that bit is inverted; if there is a 0, the bit is not inverted and stays the same.

// Note: This code uses registers specific to AVR microcontrollers (Uno, Nano, Leonardo, Mega, etc.)
// it will not compile for other architectures
void setup() {
  DDRB = DDRB | 0b00100000;  // set PB5 (pin 13 on Uno/Nano, pin 9 on Leonardo/Micro, pin 11 on Mega) as OUTPUT
  Serial.begin(9600);
}

void loop() {
  PORTB = PORTB ^ 0b00100000;  // invert PB5, leave others untouched
  delay(100);
}

See also