Jun 15 2009

Checking Bits With PHP

PHP makes life a lot easier for quick or dirty maintenance scripts, cron jobs or web applications but how does it do for older, not so straight forward problems dealing with bits and bytes? I was surprised how easy it was to manipulate bits in a byte with php. Here is an function that made my life a fair amount easier when having to check for a specific bit in a byte.

This function checks whether a certain bit is set or not given a byte and an index. It returns true if the chosen bit is set. It casts the $value argument to a integer just in case. The index $n goes from left to right so the most significant bit is bit one and the least significant is bit eight. This function will only work for integers between 0 and 255 because that was all I needed at the time. It would be trivial to write either a function to separate bytes in an integer or to increase the amount of bits that this function checks. I originally had a different function here but the Internet quickly told me that there was an easier way to do this.


function check_bit($value,$n=8)
    $value = (int)$value;
    if($value & (1<<(8-$n))) { return true; }
    else { return false; }

//Check Bit Usage Example
$test_byte1 = "4";

if( check_bit($test_byte1,2))
  echo "Bit 2 is set in ".decbin($test_byte1);
  echo "Bit 2 is not set in ".decbin($test_byte1);


Here are the php bitwise operator definitions from the php documentation. Look like C much?

$a & $b And Bits that are set in both $a and $b are set.
$a | $b Or Bits that are set in either $a or $b are set.
$a ^ $b Xor Bits that are set in $a or $b but not both are set.
~ $a Not Bits that are set in $a are not set, and vice versa.
$a << $b Shift left Shift the bits of $a $b steps to the left (each step means “multiply by two”)
$a >> $b Shift right Shift the bits of $a $b steps to the right (each step means “divide by two”)