or exclusive disjunction
is a logical operation
that is true if and only if its arguments differ (one is true, the other is false).
It gains the name "exclusive or" because the meaning of "or" is ambiguous when both operands
are true; the exclusive or operator excludes
that case. This is sometimes thought of as "one or the other but not both". This could be written as "A or B, but not, A and B".
Since it is associative, it may be considered to be an n-ary operator which is true if and only if an odd number of arguments are true. That is, a XOR b XOR ... may be treated as XOR(a,b,...).
The truth table
of A XOR B shows that it outputs true whenever the inputs differ:
XOR truth table
Equivalences, elimination, and introduction Exclusive disjunction essentially means 'either one, but not both nor none'. In other words, the statement is true if and only if
one is true and the other is false. For example, if two horses are racing, then one of the two will win the race, but not both of them. The exclusive disjunction
, also denoted by ⩛
, can be expressed in terms of the logical conjunction
("logical and", ), the disjunction
("logical or", ), and the negation
() as follows:
The exclusive disjunction
can also be expressed in the following way:
This representation of XOR may be found useful when constructing a circuit or network, because it has only one operation and small number of and operations. A proof of this identity is given below:
It is sometimes useful to write
in the following way:
This equivalence can be established by applying De Morgan's laws
twice to the fourth line of the above proof.
In summary, we have, in mathematical and in engineering notation:
The spirit of De Morgan's laws can be applied, we have:
Relation to modern algebra
, but neither is a group
. This unfortunately prevents the combination of these two systems into larger structures, such as a mathematical ring
However, the system using exclusive or is
an abelian group
. The combination of operators and
produce the well-known field
. This field can represent any logic obtainable with the system
and has the added benefit of the arsenal of algebraic analysis tools for fields.
More specifically, if one associates
with 0 and
with 1, one can interpret the logical "AND" operation as multiplication on
and the "XOR" operation as addition on
Exclusive "or" in natural language Disjunction is often understood exclusively in natural languages
. In English, the disjunctive word "or" is often understood exclusively, particularly when used with the particle "either". The English example below would normally be understood in conversation as implying that Mary is not both a singer and a poet.
1. Mary is a singer or a poet.
However, disjunction can also be understood inclusively, even in combination with "either". For instance, the first example below shows that "either" can be felicitously
used in combination with an outright statement that both disjuncts are true. The second example shows that the exclusive inference vanishes away under downward entailing
contexts. If disjunction were understood as exclusive in this example, it would leave open the possibility that some people ate both rice and beans.
2. Mary is either a singer or a poet or both.
3. Nobody ate either rice or beans.
Examples such as the above have motivated analyses of the exclusivity inference as pragmaticconversational implicatures
calculated on the basis of an inclusive semantics
. Implicatures are typically cancellable
and do not arise in downward entailing contexts if their calculation depends on the Maxim of Quantity
. However, some researchers have treated exclusivity as a bona fide semantic entailment
and proposed nonclassical logics which would validate it.
This behavior of English "or" is also found in other languages. However, many languages have disjunctive constructions which are robustly exclusive such as French soit... soit
The symbol used for exclusive disjunction varies from one field of application to the next, and even depends on the properties being emphasized in a given context of discussion. In addition to the abbreviation "XOR", any of the following symbols may also be seen:
, a plus sign, which has the advantage that all of the ordinary algebraic properties of mathematical rings
can be used without further ado; but the plus sign is also used for inclusive disjunction in some notation systems; note that exclusive disjunction corresponds to addition modulo
2, which has the following addition table, clearly isomorphic
to the one above:
- , a modified plus sign; this symbol is also used in mathematics for the direct sum of algebraic structures
- J, as in Jpq
- An inclusive disjunction symbol () that is modified in some way, such as
- ^, the caret, used in several programming languages, such as C, C++, C#, D, Java, Perl, Ruby, PHP and Python, denoting the bitwise XOR operator; not used outside of programming contexts because it is too easily confused with other uses of the caret
- , sometimes written as
- =1, in IEC symbology
(Conjunction and exclusive or form the multiplication and addition operations of a fieldGF(2)
, and as in any field they obey the distributive law.)
When all inputs are true, the output is not true.
When all inputs are false, the output is false.
The function is linear.
If using binary
values for true (1) and false (0), then exclusive or
works exactly like additionmodulo
Traditional symbolic representation of an XOR logic gate
Exclusive disjunction is often used for bitwise operations. Examples:
- 1 XOR 1 = 0
- 1 XOR 0 = 1
- 0 XOR 1 = 1
- 0 XOR 0 = 0
- 11102 XOR 10012 = 01112 (this is equivalent to addition without carry)
As noted above, since exclusive disjunction is identical to addition modulo 2, the bitwise exclusive disjunction of two n
-bit strings is identical to the standard vector of addition in the vector space
In computer science, exclusive disjunction has several uses:
- It tells whether two bits are unequal.
- It is an optional bit-flipper (the deciding input chooses whether to invert the data input).
- It tells whether there is an odd number of 1 bits ( is true iff an odd number of the variables are true).
In logical circuits, a simple adder
can be made with an XOR gate
to add the numbers, and a series of AND, OR and NOT gates to create the carry output.
On some computer architectures, it is more efficient to store a zero in a register by XOR-ing the register with itself (bits XOR-ed with themselves are always zero) instead of loading and storing the value zero.
Exclusive-or is also heavily used in block ciphers such as AES (Rijndael) or Serpent and in block cipher implementation (CBC, CFB, OFB or CTR).
Similarly, XOR can be used in generating entropy pools
for hardware random number generators
. The XOR operation preserves randomness, meaning that a random bit XORed with a non-random bit will result in a random bit. Multiple sources of potentially random data can be combined using XOR, and the unpredictability of the output is guaranteed to be at least as good as the best individual source.
XOR is used in RAID
3–6 for creating parity information. For example, RAID can "back up" bytes 100111002
from two (or more) hard drives by XORing the just mentioned bytes, resulting in (111100002
) and writing it to another drive. Under this method, if any one of the three hard drives are lost, the lost byte can be re-created by XORing bytes from the remaining drives. For instance, if the drive containing 011011002
is lost, 100111002
can be XORed to recover the lost byte.
XOR is also used to detect an overflow in the result of a signed binary arithmetic operation. If the leftmost retained bit of the result is not the same as the infinite number of digits to the left, then that means overflow occurred. XORing those two bits will give a "1" if there is an overflow.
XOR can be used to swap two numeric variables in computers, using the XOR swap algorithm
; however this is regarded as more of a curiosity and not encouraged in practice.
Apart from the ASCII codes, the operator is encoded at U+22BB ⊻ XOR
(HTML ⊻ ·⊻
) and U+2295 ⊕ CIRCLED PLUS
(HTML ⊕ · ⊕, ⊕
), both in block mathematical operators
- ^ Germundsson, Roger; Weisstein, Eric. "XOR". MathWorld. Wolfram Research. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
- ^ Craig, Edward, ed. (1998), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 10, Taylor & Francis, p. 496, ISBN 9780415073103
- ^ a b c d Aloni, Maria (2016), Zalta, Edward N. (ed.), "Disjunction", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2016 ed.), Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, retrieved 2020-09-03
- ^ Jennings quotes numerous authors saying that the word "or" has an exclusive sense. See Chapter 3, "The First Myth of 'Or'":
Jennings, R. E. (1994). The Genealogy of Disjunction. New York: Oxford University Press.
- ^ Davies, Robert B (28 February 2002). "Exclusive OR (XOR) and hardware random number generators" (PDF). Retrieved 28 August 2013.
- ^ Nobel, Rickard (26 July 2011). "How RAID 5 actually works". Retrieved 23 March 2017.
Last edited on 30 April 2021, at 21:26
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