Last Updated on March 13, 2023 by Prepbytes
In Python, the right shift operator is represented by two consecutive "greater than" signs (>>). It takes two operands: the first operand is the number that we want to shift, and the second operand is the number of positions we want to shift the number. In this section, we will discuss the right shift operator in python, the syntax of the right shift operator in python, and examples and uses of the right shift operator in python
What is the Right Shift Operator in Python?
The right shift operator works by shifting the binary representation of the first operand to the right by the number of positions specified by the second operand. Each position that the bits are shifted right is equivalent to dividing the number by 2.
For example, if we have the binary number 10101010 and we shift it two positions to the right, we get the binary number 00101010, which is equivalent to the decimal number 42 >> 2 = 10. Similarly, if we have the binary number 11111111 (which represents 1 in two’s complement) and we shift it two positions to the right, we get the binary number 11111111, which represents 1 >> 2 = 1.
The right shift operator is primarily used for performing bitwise operations in Python, such as extracting specific bits from a binary number or efficiently packing multiple values into a single binary number. It is a useful tool for manipulating binary numbers in a variety of programming applications.
Syntax of Right Shift Operator in Python
The syntax for the right shift operator in Python is as follows:
number >> n
Here, the number is the integer whose bits are to be shifted to the right, and n is the number of positions by which the bits are to be shifted.
Examples of Right Shift Operator in Python
Here are some examples of using the right shift operator in Python:
Example 1 of right shift operator in python: Shifting a positive number to the right
Below we have code implementation and explanation
Code Implementation
num = 10
shifted_num = num >> 2
print(shifted_num)
Output:
2
Explanation:
The binary representation of 10 is 1010. When we shift it two positions to the right, we get 0010, which is equivalent to the decimal number 2.
Example 2 of right shift operator in python: Shifting a negative number to the right
Below we have code implementation and explanation
Code Implementation
num = 10
shifted_num = num >> 2
print(shifted_num)
Output:
3
Explanation:
The binary representation of 10 in two’s complement is 11111111111111111111111111110110. When we shift it two positions to the right, we get 11111111111111111111111111111101, which is equivalent to the decimal number 3.
Example 3 of right shift operator in python: Shifting a zero to the right
Below we have code implementation and explanation
Code Implementation
num = 0
shifted_num = num >> 2
print(shifted_num)
Output
0
Explanation:
In the above python program we have use the right shift operator. Here Shifting a zero to the right by any number of positions always results in zero.
Use of the Right Shift Operator in Python
The right shift operator is primarily used for performing bitwise operations in Python. It can be used to shift the bits of a binary number to the right by a specified number of positions. This can be useful in various programming applications, such as

Integer division by powers of 2:
Since shifting a binary number to the right by one position is equivalent to dividing the number by 2, the right shift operator can be used to divide a number by powers of 2. For example, num >> 3 is equivalent to num // 8 (integer division by 8). 
Bitwise operations:
The right shift operator can be used to extract specific bits from a binary number. By shifting the bits to the right and performing a bitwise AND operation with a mask (a binary number with 1’s in the positions of the bits we want to extract), we can extract the desired bits from the original number. 
Efficient memory utilization:
In some cases, the right shift operator can be used to efficiently pack multiple values into a single binary number. By assigning each value to a specific range of bits within the number and shifting them to the appropriate positions, we can store multiple values in a single binary number and save memory.
Overall, the right shift operator is a useful tool for performing bitwise operations and manipulating binary numbers in Python.
Summary
Here is a summary of the right shift operator in Python
 The right shift operator is represented by two consecutive "greater than" signs (>>).
 It takes two operands: the first operand is the number that we want to shift, and the second operand is the number of positions we want to shift the number.
 The right shift operator works by shifting the binary representation of the first operand to the right by the number of positions specified by the second operand.
 Each position that the bits are shifted right is equivalent to dividing the number by 2.
 The right shift operator is primarily used for performing bitwise operations in Python.
 It can be used to extract specific bits from a binary number or efficiently pack multiple values into a single binary number.
 Shifting a binary number to the right by one position is equivalent to dividing the number by 2.
 Shifting a zero to the right by any number of positions always results in zero.
 Shifting a negative number to the right can result in a negative or positive number depending on the sign bit and the number of positions shifted.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here we have some FAQs on the right shift operator in python:
Q1: What is the difference between the right shift operator and the left shift operator in Python?
A: The right shift operator (>>) moves the bits of a number to the right by a specified number of positions, while the left shift operator (<<) moves the bits of a number to the left by a specified number of positions.
Q2: What is the maximum number of positions a number can be shifted to the right in Python?
A: The maximum number of positions a number can be shifted to the right is determined by the number of bits in the number. If the number is represented by n bits, it can be shifted to the right by a maximum of n1 positions.
Q3: What happens if the number of positions to shift a number to the right is greater than or equal to the number of bits in the number?
A: If the number of positions to shift a number to the right is greater than or equal to the number of bits in the number, the result will always be 0, since all the bits will be shifted out of the number.
Q4: Can the right shift operator be used with floatingpoint numbers in Python?
A: No, the right shift operator is only defined for integer numbers in Python. If you try to use it with floatingpoint numbers, you will get a TypeError.
Q5: How does the right shift operator handle overflow and underflow in Python?
A: The right shift operator does not handle overflow or underflow in Python. If the result of the shift operation is too large or too small to be represented by the integer type, it will wrap around to the smallest or largest representable value.
Q6: What happens to the sign of a number when it is shifted to the right?
A: When a number is shifted to the right, the sign bit (the leftmost bit) is replicated. If the number is positive, the sign bit is 0 and it will be filled with zeros. If the number is negative, the sign bit is 1 and it will be filled with ones.
Q7: What are some common uses of the right shift operator in Python?
A: The right shift operator in python is commonly used in lowlevel programmings, such as in bitwise operations, encoding and decoding data, and working with binary files. It can also be used to perform integer division by powers of 2, since shifting a number to the right by n positions is equivalent to dividing it by 2^n.