Arithmetic Shift

What Does Arithmetic Shift Mean?

An arithmetic shift in computer science involves a bitwise operation shifting binary numbers to an adjacent position, or some other position, either right or left. Arithmetic shifts can help perform multiplication or division on binary numbers.


Techopedia Explains Arithmetic Shift

As computers entered the “personal computer age” and evolved, arithmetic shifts became a way to work with binary, and indirectly, with machine language. Shifting the bits changes the values of the binary numbers, which can relate to memory addresses or other aspects of programming and input.

Arithmetic shifts can be used with signed or unsigned numbers. Experts call some types of arithmetic shifts logical shifts right or left. More can be found in a wealth of specific coding examples online showing, for example, how a function to perform an arithmetic shift changes the value of a binary number for some specific programming purpose, and what these shifts look like in the syntax of particular programming languages.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…