Why does raising a number to the power of (2 ** 32 – 1) flip bits?

What will you learn?

Discover the intriguing reason behind why raising a number to the power of (2 ** 32 – 1) results in bit flipping.

Introduction to the Problem and Solution

Unravel the mystery of why performing a bitwise XOR operation (^) between a number ‘n’ and (2 ** 32 – 1) leads to the inversion of ‘n’s bits. By delving into the workings of bitwise XOR and understanding two’s complement representation in binary numbers, we can decipher this fascinating phenomenon.

To tackle this issue, we’ll explore how computers represent integers in binary form and comprehend the behavior of bitwise XOR operations when applied to these representations. Through an analysis of binary arithmetic and logical operations, we can uncover the rationale behind bit flipping when using (2 ** 32 – 1).


# Understanding bit flipping with n ^ (2 ** 32 - 1)
n = 10
result = n ^ (2 ** 32 - 1)
# Print the result after performing XOR operation

# Copyright PHD

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When you perform a bitwise XOR operation between a number ‘n’ and (2 ** 32 – 1), it toggles all bits in ‘n’. This behavior is rooted in two’s complement representation for negative integers in computers.

Bitwise XOR Operation:

  • The XOR operator (^) compares corresponding bits of two operands.
  • It returns true (1) if bits are different; false (0) if equal.
  • Using XOR with all set bits flips all bits in ‘n’.

Two’s Complement Representation:

  • Negative numbers are represented using two’s complement form.
  • To negate an integer ‘x’, invert all its bits and add one: -(x) = ~x + 1.
  • When XORed with all set bits ((2 ** n) – 1), it independently negates each bit.

By combining these principles, raising any number ‘n’ to ((2 ** n)-1) performs an inversion on its binary representation due to two’s complement operation.

    Why does raising a number by (2**k)-1 flip its sign?

    Explanation: Raising any number by ((2**k)-1) toggles all its individual bits due to bitwise XOR properties.

    Does this bit-flipping behavior apply only for positive numbers?

    Explanation: No, this behavior applies regardless of whether the original number is positive or negative.

    How does two’s complement relate to bit flipping?

    Explanation: Two’s complement represents negative numbers by flipping their bits; hence, combined with bitwise operations like XOR, it causes further bit inversions.

    Can I use other operators instead of ^ for achieving similar results?

    Explanation: While other operators may produce related effects based on their logic gates properties; however, XOR remains optimal for pure toggling scenarios like this one.

    Is there any specific significance or application behind this operation?

    Explanation: This technique finds utility in scenarios requiring efficient toggling or inversion-based transformations within binary data manipulation tasks.

    Will larger values beyond k=32 exhibit similar behaviors?

    Explanation: Yes; extending k beyond limits still follows similar principles but may lead to overflow issues depending on platform word size limitations.


    This comprehensive exploration unveils why raising a number by ((2**k)-1) triggers flipped bits. By grasping fundamental concepts like bitwise operations and two�s complement representation, we gain insights into intriguing phenomena within digital computation realms.

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