5 Best Ways to Convert Gray Code for a Given Number in Python

Rate this post

πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: Converting binary numbers to Gray code is a common problem in the field of digital systems and error correction. In this article, we focus on writing Python programs to convert a binary number into its Gray code equivalent. For instance, if the input binary number is 0101, the output Gray code should be 0111.

Method 1: Using Right Shift and XOR Operator

The right shift and XOR method utilizes bitwise operators to calculate the Gray code. The Gray code for a binary number is produced by XORing the number with itself after right shifting by one bit. This method works by the definition of Gray code where two successive numbers differ in only one bit.

Here’s an example:

def binary_to_gray(n):
    n = int(n, 2)
    n ^= (n >> 1)
    return bin(n)[2:]


Output: 0111

This code defines a function binary_to_gray that accepts a string representing a binary number. It first converts the binary string to an integer, then applies the XOR operation between the number and its right-shifted self. Finally, it converts the result back to a binary string and returns it, stripped of the ‘0b’ prefix.

Method 2: Iterative Bit-Setting

This method constructs Gray code by setting each bit iteratively. Starting from the most significant bit, the method copies it unchanged to the Gray code, and for each subsequent bit, it applies an XOR operation with the previous bit of the binary number to determine the corresponding bit in Gray code.

Here’s an example:

def binary_to_gray_iterative(binary):
    binary = int(binary, 2)
    gray = binary & (1 <> i) & 1
        prev_bit = (binary >> (i + 1)) & 1
        gray |= (bit ^ prev_bit) << i
    return bin(gray)[2:]


Output: 0111

The binary_to_gray_iterative function converts a binary string to an integer and initializes the Gray code with the most significant bit. It then iteratively computes each bit of the Gray code and builds up the result one bit at a time.

Method 3: Using Bitwise AND and Shift Operators in a Loop

This approach iteratively processes the binary number, starting from the least significant bit, using bitwise AND and shift operations to determine the corresponding Gray code bits.

Here’s an example:

def binary_to_gray_bitwise(binary):
    binary = int(binary, 2)
    gray = 0
    while binary > 0:
        lsb = binary & 1
        binary >>= 1
        next_lsb = binary & 1
        gray = (gray << 1) | (lsb ^ next_lsb)
    return bin(gray)[::-1][:-2]


Output: 0111

This function, binary_to_gray_bitwise, transforms a binary string into gray code by shifting the binary number right to isolate each bit, comparing it with the next higher bit, and constructing the gray code from the least significant bit to the most significant bit. It then reverses and trims the final binary string to display the correct Gray code.

Method 4: Recursion with XOR

In this method, we use a recursive algorithm that relies on the principle that the Gray code of a number can be derived by XORing the last bit of its binary form with the Gray code of the number right-shifted by one bit.

Here’s an example:

def binary_to_gray_recursive(binary):
    if len(binary) == 1:
        return binary
        return binary_to_gray_recursive(binary[:-1]) + str(int(binary[-2]) ^ int(binary[-1]))
binary_number = '0101'
gray_code = binary_to_gray_recursive(binary_number)

Output: 0111

This recursive function, binary_to_gray_recursive, computes the Gray code by combining the result of a recursive call, which excludes the last bit of the current binary sequence, with the XOR of the last two bits of the current sequence.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: Lambda and Bitwise Operations

A compact and efficient one-liner to achieve Gray code conversion using lambda functions combined with bitwise operators. Suitable for those who appreciate concise and elegant solutions.

Here’s an example:

binary_to_gray_one_liner = lambda b: bin(int(b, 2) ^ (int(b, 2) >> 1))[2:]

Output: 0111

This one-liner, binary_to_gray_one_liner, defines a lambda function that performs the same operation as the right shift and XOR method, offering a terse but powerful one-line solution for Gray code conversion.


  • Method 1: Right Shift and XOR Operator. Straightforward and efficient, closely follows the mathematical definition of Gray code.
  • Method 2: Iterative Bit-Setting. Conceptually simple and allows for a step-by-step understanding of the Gray code conversion process.
  • Method 3: Using Bitwise AND and Shift Operators in a Loop. It performs bit manipulation from the least significant bit, which is slightly less intuitive but still effective.
  • Method 4: Recursion with XOR. Elegant, demonstrates the power of recursion, can be less efficient due to function call overhead.
  • Method 5: Lambda and Bitwise Operations. Compact and Pythonic; however, it may be harder to read and understand for beginners.