When you program, you're usually doing it at some distance from the bits and bytes that your computer understands. There never seems to be a need to think about bits. But believe it or not, learning about bits can be to your advantage for certain programming purposes. Perl provides operators for working with bits that let you leverage this knowledge.
For many programmers, bits aren't an issue that receives any serious attention. Whenever someone mentions a bit, they get a vague idea of ones and zeros strung together, deep within the heart of a computer, at a level they don't have to work with or even think about. Creating a functioning program, or even a complex program, requires absolutely no knowledge of bits, and as a result, learning about bits is often a curiosity. Programmers can manipulate more complex and more abstract data structures, and these structures form the real meat of the program. With Perl and other similar scripting languages, this is especially true.
But bits are definitely worth learning and thinking about. Sometimes, a particular algorithm requires manipulating bits to work efficiently or at all, and other times, working with bits just makes problem solving a heck of a lot easier. Even in a language like Perl, this is still the case. In any case, it's good to have an understanding of data at a lower, more basic level, and learning about bits will provide just that.
In this article, we're going to take a look at working with bits and Perl. We'll look at the bitwise operators that Perl provides, along with some Perl functions that make bit manipulation easier. We'll also take a look at an application that requires bit manipulation in order to function.