Data Science

What is XOR in Python? Basics, Implementation & Application

Published: 18th July, 2023

Mahima Phalkey

Data Science Consultant at almaBetter

Learn XOR in Python as you embark on a captivating exploration of its capabilities. Delve deep into the wide potential of XOR and discover abilities of Python.

XOR, short for Exclusive OR, is a logical operation that takes two binary inputs and produces an output. It returns true (1) if the inputs are different and false (0) if they are the same. In programming, XOR is often used in various applications, including bit manipulation, cryptography, and conditional expressions.

XOR Basics

A. Truth Table

At its core, XOR is a binary operation that takes two inputs and returns a result based on their logical comparison. The truth table for XOR can be summarized as follows: The behavior of XOR can be understood by observing the output column. It returns true only when the inputs differ (one is true and the other is false), while it returns false when the inputs are either both true or both false.

XOR Basics

XOR Basics

B. XOR Operations

1. Binary XOR

In binary XOR operations, the XOR operator in python compares the corresponding bits of two binary numbers and returns a new binary number. Let's consider an example to illustrate this:

Suppose we have two binary numbers, A = 1010 and B = 1101. We can perform the XOR operation as follows:


^ 1101



The resulting binary number is 0111. Each bit of the result is determined by comparing the corresponding bits of the input numbers. If the bits are different, the result bit is set to 1; otherwise, it is set to 0.

2. Logical XOR

In Python, logical XOR operations involve the use of the Boolean values True and False. The True value represents 1, while False represents 0. The logical XOR operation returns True only when one of the inputs is True and the other is False. Let's see an example:

A = True
B = False
result = A ^ B


In this case, the result is True because one input is True and the other is False. If both inputs were True or both were False, the result would be False.

Implementing XOR in Python

Python provides different ways to implement XOR operations, offering flexibility and convenience for programmers. Let's explore some of these approaches:

A. Using the '^' Operator

In Python ^ symbol is used to represent XOR symbol in python. The ^ operator in Python can be used to perform XOR operations between two values. It works for both binary and Boolean values.Here's an example:

A = 5
B = 3
result = A ^ B


In this case, the XOR operation between 5 and 3 results in 6. The binary representation of 5 is 101, while 3 is 011. The XOR comparison of corresponding bits gives 110, which is 6 in decimal representation.

B. Bitwise XOR

Python provides a built-in function called bitwise_xor() that performs bitwise XOR operations. It takes two integers as input and returns the XOR result. Here's an example:

import operator
A = 10
B = 6
result = operator.bitwise_xor(A, B)


In this case, the bitwise XOR operation between 10 and 6 results in 12. The binary representation of 10 is 1010, while 6 is 0110. The XOR comparison of corresponding bits gives 1100, which is 12 in decimal representation.

C. Logical XOR

Logical XOR operations can be implemented in Python using conditional statements. Here's an example:

A = True
B = False
if A !B:
     result = True
     result = False

In this example, the result is True because the inputs differ. If both inputs were the same, the result would be False.

XOR Applications

XOR finds applications in various domains, showcasing its versatility and importance in programming. Let's explore a few notable applications:

A. Encryption and Cryptography

XOR plays a crucial role in encryption algorithms, such as the Vernam cipher. In the Vernam cipher, the XOR operation is used to combine the plaintext with a secret key to produce the ciphertext. By XORing the key with the plaintext, the original message becomes unintelligible without the key. XOR-based encryption ensures that the encrypted data is secure as long as the key remains secret.

B. Error Detection and Correction

XOR is instrumental in error detection codes, like the parity bit. In communication systems, the parity bit is used to detect errors during data transmission. By performing XOR operations on the data bits, a parity bit is generated and appended to the data. If an error occurs during transmission, the receiver can detect it by comparing the received parity bit with the one computed from the received data. If they differ, an error has occurred.

C. Neural Networks

XOR serves as a fundamental building block in neural networks. XOR gates are used to create complex network structures that can learn and make decisions based on input data. XOR's significance lies in the fact that a single-layer perceptron, which can only solve linearly separable problems, fails to learn the XOR function. This limitation highlighted the need for more advanced network architectures, leading to the development of multi-layer perceptrons capable of solving complex problems.

To know more about numpy to get such operations done, you can also read Getting Started with Numpy article.


XOR, the exclusive OR operation, holds immense importance in computer programming and finds applications in encryption, error detection, and neural networks. Through this blog, we explored the basics of XOR, its implementation in Python using various methods, and its significance in different domains. Understanding XOR equips programmers with a powerful tool to tackle a wide range of challenges. As you embark on your programming journey, remember to experiment with XOR and explore its applications in your Python projects. Happy coding!

Frequently asked Questions

Q1: What does XOR stand for in Python?

Ans: XOR stands for exclusive OR in Python.

Q2: What is the truth table for XOR in Python?

Ans: The truth table for XOR in Python can be summarized as follows: XOR returns true only when the inputs differ (one is true and the other is false), while it returns false when the inputs are either both true or both false.

Q3: How can I perform binary XOR operations in Python?

Ans: To perform binary XOR operations in Python, you can use the XOR operator (^) to compare the corresponding bits of two binary numbers and return a new binary number.

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