Home IOS Development Sensible information to binary operations utilizing the UInt8 sort in Swift

Sensible information to binary operations utilizing the UInt8 sort in Swift

Sensible information to binary operations utilizing the UInt8 sort in Swift


Integer varieties in Swift

The Swift programming language has a bunch of various integer varieties. The Swift integer APIs have been cleaned up by an previous proposal named Protocol-oriented Integers, which resulted in a extra generic means of expressing these sort of knowledge varieties.

Numeric knowledge varieties in Swift are sort protected by default, this makes a bit more durable to carry out operation utilizing totally different integer (or floating level) varieties. Integers are divided into two predominant teams: signed and unsigned integers. As well as every members of those teams may be categorized by bit sizes. There are 8, 16, 32 & 64 bit lengthy signed & unsigned integers plus generic integers. 🤔

Generic integers:

  • Int (32 or 64 bit)
  • UInt (32 or 64 bit)

Signed integers:

Unsigned integers:

It’s best to know that the Int and UInt sort measurement might differ on totally different platforms (32 vs 64 bits), however with a view to be constant, Apple recommends to all the time choose the generic Int sort over all the opposite variants. The Swift language all the time identifies all of the integers utilizing the Int sort by default, so for those who preserve utilizing this kind you can carry out integer operations with out sort conversions, your code will likely be simpler to learn and it’ll be simpler to maneuver between platforms too. 💪

More often than not you should not care concerning the size of the integer varieties, we are able to say that the generic Int and UInt varieties are very often the very best selections if you write Swift code. Besides in these circumstances when your objective is to jot down extraordinarily reminiscence environment friendly or low degree code…

Representing numbers as integers

Now that we all know what sort of integers can be found in Swift, it is time to discuss a bit about what sort of numbers can we characterize utilizing these knowledge varieties.


So there’s a minimal and most worth for every integer sort that we are able to retailer in a given variable. For instance, we will not retailer the worth 69420 inside a UInt8 sort, as a result of there are merely not sufficient bits to characterize this large quantity. 🤓

Let’s study our 8 bit lengthy unsigned integer sort. 8 bit implies that we’ve got actually 8 locations to retailer boolean values (ones and zeros) utilizing the binary quantity illustration. 0101 0110 in binary is 86 utilizing the “common” decimal quantity format. This binary quantity is a base-2 numerical system (a positional notation) with a radix of two. The quantity 86 may be interpreted as:

0*28+1*27+0*26+1*25+0*24 + 1*23+1*22+0*21+0*20
0*128+1*64+0*32+1*16 + 0*8+1*4+1*2+0*1

We are able to convert backwards and forwards between decimal and binary numbers, it is not that arduous in any respect, however let’s come again to this matter in a while. In Swift we are able to examine if a sort is a signed sort and we are able to additionally get the size of the integer sort by means of the bitWidth property.


Based mostly on this logic, now it is fairly easy that an 8 bit lengthy unsigned sort can solely retailer 255 as the utmost worth (1111 1111), since that is 128+64+32+16+8+4+2+1.

What about signed varieties? Effectively, the trick is that 1 bit from the 8 is reserved for the constructive / unfavourable image. Normally the primary bit represents the signal and the remaining 7 bits can retailer the precise numeric values. For instance the Int8 sort can retailer numbers from -128 til 127, because the most constructive worth is represented as 0111 1111, 64+32+16+8+4+2+1, the place the main zero signifies that we’re speaking a couple of constructive quantity and the remaining 7 bits are all ones.

So how the hack can we characterize -128? Is not -127 (1111 1111) the minimal unfavourable worth? 😅

Nope, that is not how unfavourable binary numbers work. To be able to perceive unfavourable integer illustration utilizing binary numbers, first we’ve got to introduce a brand new time period known as two’s complement, which is a straightforward methodology of signed quantity illustration.

Fundamental signed quantity maths

It’s comparatively straightforward so as to add two binary numbers, you simply add the bits so as with a carry, similar to you’d do addition utilizing decimal numbers. Subtraction alternatively is a bit more durable, however happily it may be changed with an addition operation if we retailer unfavourable numbers in a particular means and that is the place two’s complement is available in.

Lets say that we would like so as to add two numbers:

  • 0010 1010 (+42)
  • 0100 0101 +(+69)
  • 0110 1111 =(+111)

Now let’s add a constructive and a unfavourable quantity saved utilizing two’s complement, first we have to categorical -6 utilizing a signed 8 bit binary quantity format:

  • 0000 0110 (+6)
  • 1111 1001 (one’s complement = inverted bits)
  • 1111 1010 (two’s complement = add +1 (0000 0001) to 1’s complement)

Now we are able to merely carry out an addition operation on the constructive and unfavourable numbers.

  • 0010 1010 (+42)
  • 1111 1010 +(-6)
  • (1) 0010 0100 =(+36)

So, you may assume, what is the cope with the additional 1 to start with of the 8 bit consequence? Effectively, that is known as a carry bit, and in our case it will not have an effect on our last consequence, since we have carried out a subtraction as an alternative of an addition. As you possibly can see the remaining 8 bit represents the constructive quantity 36 and 42-6 is precisely 36, we are able to merely ignore the additional flag for now. 😅

Binary operators in Swift

Sufficient from the idea, let’s dive in with some actual world examples utilizing the UInt8 sort. To start with, we must always discuss about bitwise operators in Swift. In my earlier article we have talked about Bool operators (AND, OR, NOT) and the Boolean algebra, now we are able to say that these capabilities function utilizing a single bit. This time we’ll see how bitwise operators can carry out numerous transformations utilizing a number of bits. In our pattern circumstances it is all the time going to be 8 bit. 🤓

Bitwise NOT operator

This operator (~) inverts all bits in a quantity. We are able to use it to create one’s complement values.

let x: UInt8 = 0b00000110    
let res = ~x                 
print(String(res, radix: 2)) 

Effectively, the issue is that we’ll preserve seeing decimal numbers on a regular basis when utilizing int varieties in Swift. We are able to print out the right 1111 1001 consequence, utilizing a String worth with the bottom of two, however for some cause the inverted quantity represents 249 based on our debug console. 🙃

It is because the that means of the UInt8 sort has no understanding concerning the signal bit, and the eighth bit is all the time refers back to the 28 worth. Nonetheless, in some circumstances e.g. if you do low degree programming, akin to constructing a NES emulator written in Swift, that is the best knowledge sort to decide on.

The Knowledge sort from the Basis framework is taken into account to be a set of UInt8 numbers. Really you will discover various use-cases for the UInt8 sort for those who take a deeper have a look at the present frameworks & libraries. Cryptography, knowledge transfers, and so forth.

Anyway, you can also make an extension to simply print out the binary illustration for any unsigned 8 bit quantity with main zeros if wanted. 0️⃣0️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ 0️⃣1️⃣1️⃣0️⃣

import Basis

fileprivate extension String {
    func leftPad(with character: Character, size: UInt) -> String {
        let maxLength = Int(size) - depend
        guard maxLength > 0 else {
            return self
        return String(repeating: String(character), depend: maxLength) + self

extension UInt8 {
    var bin: String {
        String(self, radix: 2).leftPad(with: "0", size: 8)

let x: UInt8 = 0b00000110   
print(String(x, radix: 2))  
let res = (~x) + 1          

We nonetheless have to offer our customized logic if we need to categorical signed numbers utilizing UInt8, however that is solely going to occur after we all know extra concerning the different bitwise operators.

Bitwise AND, OR, XOR operators

These operators works similar to you’d count on it from the reality tables. The AND operator returns a one if each the bits have been true, the OR operator returns a 1 if both of the bits have been true and the XOR operator solely returns a real worth if solely one of many bits have been true.

  • AND & – 1 if each bits have been 1
  • OR | – 1 if both of the bits have been 1
  • XOR ^ – 1 if solely one of many bits have been 1
  • Let me present you a fast instance for every operator in Swift.
let x: UInt8 = 42   
let y: UInt8 = 28   
print((x & y).bin)  
print((x | y).bin)  
print((x ^ y).bin)  

Mathematically talking, there may be not a lot cause to carry out these operations, it will not offer you a sum of the numbers or different fundamental calculation outcomes, however they’ve a unique goal.

You should use the bitwise AND operator to extract bits from a given quantity. For instance if you wish to retailer 8 (or much less) particular person true or false values utilizing a single UInt8 sort you should use a bitmask to extract & set given elements of the quantity. 😷

var statusFlags: UInt8 = 0b00000100

print(statusFlags & 0b00000100 == 4)   
print(statusFlags & 0b00010000 == 16)  
statusFlags = statusFlags & 0b11101111 | 16
statusFlags = statusFlags & 0b11111011 | 0
statusFlags = statusFlags & 0b11101111 | 0
statusFlags = statusFlags & 0b11101011 | 4

That is good, particularly for those who do not need to fiddle with 8 totally different Bool variables, however one there may be one factor that could be very inconvenient about this answer. We all the time have to make use of the best energy of two, in fact we may use pow, however there’s a extra elegant answer for this concern.

Bitwise left & proper shift operators

By utilizing a bitwise shift operation you possibly can transfer a bit in a given quantity to left or proper. Left shift is basically a multiplication operation and proper shift is an identical with a division by an element of two.

“Shifting an integer’s bits to the left by one place doubles its worth, whereas shifting it to the best by one place halves its worth.” – swift.org

It is fairly easy, however let me present you just a few sensible examples so you will perceive it in a bit. 😅

let meaningOfLife: UInt8 = 42

print(meaningOfLife << 1) 
print(meaningOfLife << 2) 
print(meaningOfLife << 3) 
print(meaningOfLife >> 1) 
print(meaningOfLife >> 2) 
print(meaningOfLife >> 3) 
print(meaningOfLife >> 4) 
print(meaningOfLife >> 5) 
print(meaningOfLife >> 6) 
print(meaningOfLife >> 7) 

As you possibly can see we’ve got to watch out with left shift operations, because the consequence can overflow the 8 bit vary. If this occurs, the additional bit will simply go away and the remaining bits are going for use as a last consequence. Proper shifting is all the time going to finish up as a zero worth. ⚠️

Now again to our standing flag instance, we are able to use bit shifts, to make it extra easy.

var statusFlags: UInt8 = 0b00000100

print(statusFlags & 1 << 2 == 1 << 2)

statusFlags = statusFlags & ~(1 << 2) | 0

statusFlags = statusFlags & ~(1 << 2) | 1 << 2

As you possibly can see we have used various bitwise operations right here. For the primary examine we use left shift to create our masks, bitwise and to extract the worth utilizing the masks and eventually left shift once more to check it with the underlying worth. Contained in the second set operation we use left shift to create a masks then we use the not operator to invert the bits, since we’ll set the worth utilizing a bitwise or operate. I suppose you possibly can work out the final line based mostly on this information, but when not simply observe these operators, they’re very good to make use of as soon as all of the little the main points. ☺️

I feel I will reduce it right here, and I am going to make simply one other submit about overflows, carry bits and numerous transformations, possibly we’ll contain hex numbers as nicely, anyway do not need to promise something particular. Bitwise operations are usueful and enjoyable, simply observe & do not be afraid of a little bit of math. 👾



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here