# Difference between 'and' (boolean) vs. '&' (bitwise) in python. Why difference in behavior with lists vs numpy arrays?

**What explains the difference in behavior of boolean and bitwise operations on lists vs numpy.arrays?**

I'm getting confused about the appropriate use of the '`&`

' vs '`and`

' in python, illustrated in the following simple examples.

```
mylist1 = [True, True, True, False, True]
mylist2 = [False, True, False, True, False]
>>> len(mylist1) == len(mylist2)
True
# ---- Example 1 ----
>>>mylist1 and mylist2
[False, True, False, True, False]
#I am confused: I would have expected [False, True, False, False, False]
# ---- Example 2 ----
>>>mylist1 & mylist2
*** TypeError: unsupported operand type(s) for &: 'list' and 'list'
#I am confused: Why not just like example 1?
# ---- Example 3 ----
>>>import numpy as np
>>> np.array(mylist1) and np.array(mylist2)
*** ValueError: The truth value of an array with more than one element is ambiguous. Use a.any() or a.all()
#I am confused: Why not just like Example 4?
# ---- Example 4 ----
>>> np.array(mylist1) & np.array(mylist2)
array([False, True, False, False, False], dtype=bool)
#This is the output I was expecting!
```

This answer, and this answer both helped me understand that 'and' is a boolean operation but '&' is a bitwise operation.

I was reading some information to better understand the concept of bitwise operations, but I am struggling to use that information to make sense of my above 4 examples.

Note, in my particular situation, my desired output is a newlist where:

```
len(newlist) == len(mylist1)
newlist[i] == (mylist1[i] and mylist2[i]) #for every element of newlist
```

Example 4, above, led me to my desired output, so that is fine.

But I am left feeling confused about when/how/why I should use 'and' vs '&'. Why do lists and numpy arrays behave differently with these operators?

**Can anyone help me understand the difference between boolean and bitwise operations to explain why they handle lists and numpy.arrays differently?**

I just want to make sure I continue to use these operations correctly going forward. Thanks a lot for the help!

```
Numpy version 1.7.1
python 2.7
References all inline with text.
```

**EDITS**

1) Thanks @delnan for pointing out that in my original examples I had am ambiguity that was masking my deeper confusion. I have updated my examples to clarify my question.

`and`

tests whether both expressions are logically `True`

while `&`

(when used with `True`

/`False`

values) tests if both are `True`

.

In Python, empty built-in objects are typically treated as logically `False`

while non-empty built-ins are logically `True`

. This facilitates the common use case where you want to do something if a list is empty and something else if the list is not. Note that this means that the list [False] is logically `True`

:

```
>>> if [False]:
... print 'True'
...
True
```

So in Example 1, the first list is non-empty and therefore logically `True`

, so the truth value of the `and`

is the same as that of the second list. (In our case, the second list is non-empty and therefore logically `True`

, but identifying that would require an unnecessary step of calculation.)

For example 2, lists cannot meaningfully be combined in a bitwise fashion because they can contain arbitrary unlike elements. Things that can be combined bitwise include: Trues and Falses, integers.

NumPy objects, by contrast, support vectorized calculations. That is, they let you perform the same operations on multiple pieces of data.

Example 3 fails because NumPy arrays (of length > 1) have no truth value as this prevents vector-based logic confusion.

Example 4 is simply a vectorized bit `and`

operation.

**Bottom Line**

If you are not dealing with arrays and are not performing math manipulations of integers, you probably want

`and`

.If you have vectors of truth values that you wish to combine, use

`numpy`

with`&`

.

From: stackoverflow.com/q/22646463

**★ Back to homepage or read more recommendations:**