C++ – Using bitwise operators for Booleans in C++


Is there any reason not to use the bitwise operators &, |, and ^ for "bool" values in C++?

I sometimes run into situations where I want exactly one of two conditions to be true (XOR), so I just throw the ^ operator into a conditional expression. I also sometimes want all parts of a condition to be evaluated whether the result is true or not (rather than short-circuiting), so I use & and |. I also need to accumulate Boolean values sometimes, and &= and |= can be quite useful.

I've gotten a few raised eyebrows when doing this, but the code is still meaningful and cleaner than it would be otherwise. Is there any reason NOT to use these for bools? Are there any modern compilers that give bad results for this?

Best Solution

|| and && are boolean operators and the built-in ones are guaranteed to return either true or false. Nothing else.

|, & and ^ are bitwise operators. When the domain of numbers you operate on is just 1 and 0, then they are exactly the same, but in cases where your booleans are not strictly 1 and 0 – as is the case with the C language – you may end up with some behavior you didn't want. For instance:

BOOL two = 2;
BOOL one = 1;
BOOL and = two & one;   //and = 0
BOOL cand = two && one; //cand = 1

In C++, however, the bool type is guaranteed to be only either a true or a false (which convert implicitly to respectively 1 and 0), so it's less of a worry from this stance, but the fact that people aren't used to seeing such things in code makes a good argument for not doing it. Just say b = b && x and be done with it.