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java – What does "|=" mean? (pipe equal operator)

Posted by: admin March 10, 2020 Leave a comment


I tried searching using Google Search and Stack Overflow, but it didn’t show up any results. I have seen this in opensource library code:

Notification notification = new Notification(icon, tickerText, when);
notification.defaults |= Notification.DEFAULT_SOUND;
notification.defaults |= Notification.DEFAULT_VIBRATE;

What does “|=” ( pipe equal operator ) mean?

How to&Answers:

|= reads the same way as +=.

notification.defaults |= Notification.DEFAULT_SOUND;

is the same as

notification.defaults = notification.defaults | Notification.DEFAULT_SOUND;

where | is the bit-wise OR operator.

All operators are referenced here.

A bit-wise operator is used because, as is frequent, those constants enable an int to carry flags.

If you look at those constants, you’ll see that they’re in powers of two :

public static final int DEFAULT_SOUND = 1;
public static final int DEFAULT_VIBRATE = 2; // is the same than 1<<1 or 10 in binary
public static final int DEFAULT_LIGHTS = 4; // is the same than 1<<2 or 100 in binary

So you can use bit-wise OR to add flags

int myFlags = DEFAULT_SOUND | DEFAULT_VIBRATE; // same as 001 | 010, producing 011



simply means we add a flag.

And symmetrically, we test a flag is set using & :

boolean hasVibrate = (DEFAULT_VIBRATE & myFlags) != 0;


You have already got sufficient answer for your question. But may be my answer help you more about |= kind of binary operators.

I am writing table for bitwise operators:
Following are valid:

Operator   Description                                   Example
|=        bitwise inclusive OR and assignment operator   C |= 2 is same as C = C | 2
^=        bitwise exclusive OR and assignment operator   C ^= 2 is same as C = C ^ 2
&=        Bitwise AND assignment operator                C &= 2 is same as C = C & 2
<<=       Left shift AND assignment operator             C <<= 2 is same as C = C << 2
>>=       Right shift AND assignment operator            C >>= 2 is same as C = C >> 2  

note all operators are binary operators.

Also Note: (for below points I wanted to add my answer)

  • >>> is bitwise operator in Java that is called Unsigned shift
    but >>>= not an operator in Java. >>>= operator

  • ~ is bitwise complement bits, 0 to 1 and 1 to 0 (Unary operator) but ~= not an operator.

  • Additionally, ! Called Logical NOT Operator, but != Checks if the value of two operands are equal or not, if values are not equal then condition becomes true. e.g. (A != B) is true. where as A=!B means if B is true then A become false (and if B is false then A become true).

side note: | is not called pipe, instead its called OR, pipe is shell terminology transfer one process out to next..


I was looking for an answer on what |= does in Groovy and although answers above are right on they did not help me understand a particular piece of code I was looking at.

In particular, when applied to a boolean variable “|=” will set it to TRUE the first time it encounters a truthy expression on the right side and will HOLD its TRUE value for all |= subsequent calls. Like a latch.

Here a simplified example of this:

groovy> boolean result  
groovy> //------------ 
groovy> println result           //<-- False by default
groovy> println result |= false 
groovy> println result |= true   //<-- set to True and latched on to it
groovy> println result |= false 



Why is this useful?

Consider a situation where you want to know if anything has changed on a variety of objects and if so notify some one of the changes. So, you would setup a hasChanges boolean and set it to |= diff (a,b) and then |= dif(b,c) etc.
Here is a brief example:

groovy> boolean hasChanges, a, b, c, d 
groovy> diff = {x,y -> x!=y}  
groovy> hasChanges |= diff(a,b) 
groovy> hasChanges |= diff(b,c) 
groovy> hasChanges |= diff(true,false) 
groovy> hasChanges |= diff(c,d) 
groovy> hasChanges 

Result: true


It’s a shortening for this:

notification.defaults = notification.defaults | Notification.DEFAULT_SOUND;

And | is a bit-wise OR.


| is the bitwise-or operator, and it is being applied like +=.


Note: ||= does not exist. (logical or)
You can use

y= y || expr; // expr is NOT evaluated if y==true


y = expr ? true : y;  // expr is always evaluated.