Crate bitvec[][src]

bitvec — Addressable Bits

bitvec provides the foundation tools needed to implement truly single-bit bool collections and arbitrary bit-precision addressing. It builds compact collections and performant bitfield regions with a high-level, expressive, API that compiles down to the simple machine instructions you would expect.


The examples/ directory of the project repository contains some programs that showcase different bitvec features and use cases. In addition, each data structure’s API documentation contains more focused samples.

To begin using bitvec, you need only import its prelude. Once in scope, bitvec can take over existing memory buffers or create entirely new values:

use bitvec::prelude::*;

let data = &[0u8, 1, 2, 3];
let data_bits = data.view_bits::<Msb0>();

let literal_bits = bits![Lsb0, u16; 1, 0, 1, 1];
assert_eq!(literal_bits.as_slice()[0], 0b1101);

let array_bool = bitarr![1; 40];
let boxed_bool = bitbox![Lsb0, u32; 1; 50];
let vec_bool = bitvec![Msb0, usize; 1; 60];

The two easiest entry points into bitvec are through the BitView trait, which provides extension methods on ordinary memory to view it as a BitSlice, and the macro constructors, which convert token strings into appropriate buffers at compile time. Each data structure also has its own constructor functions that create new buffers or borrow existing values.

Once in use, bitvec’s types obey all the same patterns and APIs that you have come to expect from their analogues in the core, alloc, and std libraries.


bitvec provides data structures that specialize the major sequence types in the standard libraries:

You can start using the crate in an existing codebase by replacing types and chasing compiler errors from there.

As an example,

let mut io_buf: Vec<u8> = Vec::new();
io_buf.extend(&[0x47, 0xA5]);

let stats: Vec<bool> = vec![
  true, false, true, true,
  false, false, true, false,

would become

use bitvec::prelude::*;

let mut io_buf: BitVec<Msb0, u8> = BitVec::new();
io_buf.resize(16, false);
io_buf[.. 4].store(4u8);
io_buf[4 .. 8].store(7u8);
io_buf[8 .. 16].store(0xA5u8);

let stats: BitVec = bitvec![
  1, 0, 1, 1,
  0, 0, 1, 0,

Type Arguments

The bitvec data structures are all generic over two type parameters which control how they view and manage the memory they use. These type parameters allow users to precisely control the memory layout, value bit-patterns, and generated instructions, but most users of the library will not need to be generic over them. Instead, you probably either do not care about the details of the underlying memory, or you have a specific and fixed layout requirement. In either case, you will likely select a specific combination of type arguments and use it consistently throughout your project.

You can write your project to be generic over these type arguments, and this is certainly useful when writing code that is not coupled directly to memory, increases complexity with little practical gain.

The default type arguments are chosen for optimal behavior in memory use and instruction selection. The unadorned types BitArray, BitSlice, BitBox, and BitVec can all be used in type-annotation position (let bindings, struct fields, and function arguments). Users who need to specify their type arguments should prefer to do so in a type alias, and use that alias throughout their project instead of the much longer fully-qualified bitvec type names:

use bitvec::prelude::*;

pub type MySlice = BitSlice<Msb0, u8>;
pub type MyArray20 = bitarr![for 20, in Msb0, u8];
pub type MyVec = BitVec<Msb0, u8>;

fn make_buffer() -> MyVec {

In general, you will probably work with BitSlice borrows and BitVec owned buffers. The BitArray and BitBox types are provided for completeness and have their uses, but the additional constraints and frozen size render them less commonly useful.

Additional Details

As a replacement for bool sequences, you should be able to replace old type definition and value construction sites with their corresponding items from this project, and the rest of your project should just work with the new types.

To use bitvec for structural bitfields or specialized I/O protocol buffers, you should use BitArray or BitVec to manage your data buffers (for compile-time statically-sized and run-time dynamically-sized, respectively), and the BitField trait to manage transferring values into and out of them.

The BitSlice type contains most of the behavior that interacts with the contents of a memory buffer. BitVec adds behavior that operates on allocations, and specializes BitSlice behaviors that can take advantage of owned buffers.

The domain module, whose types are accessed by the .{bit_,}domain{,_mut} methods on BitSlice, allows users to split their views of memory at aliasing boundaries. This removes synchronization guards where bitvec can prove that doing so is legal and correct.

There are many ways to construct a bit-level view of data. The BitArray, BitBox, and BitVec types all own a buffer of memory and dereference it to BitSlice in order to view it. In addition, you can borrow any piece of ordinary Rust memory as a BitSlice view by using its borrowing constructor functions or the BitView trait’s extension methods.


bitvec stands out from other bit-sequence libraries, both in Rust and in other languages, in a few significant ways.

Unlike other Rust libraries, bitvec stores its region information in specially-encoded pointers to memory regions, rather than in the region itself. By using its own pointer encoding scheme, bitvec can use references (&BitSlice<_, _> and &mut BitSlice<_, _>) to manage memory accesses and fit seamlessly into the Rust language rules and API signatures.

Unlike any other bit-sequence system, bitvec enables users to specify both the register element type used to store data and also the ordering of bits within each register element. This sidesteps the problems found in C bitfields, C++ std::bitset and std::vector<bool>, Python’s bitstring, Erlang’s bitstream, and other Rust libraries such as bit-vec.

By permitting the in-memory layout to be specified by the user, rather than hard-coding it within the library, bitvec enables users to select the behavior characteristics they want or need without significant effort on their part.

This works by supplying two type parameters: an O BitOrder ordering of bits within a register element, and a T BitStore register element used for storage and memory description. T is restricted to be only the raw unsigned integers, and bitvec-provided wrappers over atomic and Cell synchronization guards, that fit within processor registers on your target.

These parameters permit the bitvec type system to track memory access rules and bit addressing, thus enabling a nearly seamless use of BitSlices as if they were ordinary Rust slices.

bitvec correctly handles memory aliasing by leveraging the type system to mark regions that have become subject to shared mutability. This mark can, depending on your build settings, either forbid moving such slices across threads, or issue lock instructions to the memory bus when accessing memory. You will never need to add your own guards to prevent race conditions, and BitSlice provides interfaces to separate any bit-slice into its aliased and unaliased subslices.

Where possible, bitvec uses its knowledge of bit ordering and memory availability to accelerate memory operations from individual bit-by-bit walks to batched operations within a register. This is an area of ongoing development, and is an implementation detail rather than an aspect of public API.

bitvec’s performance even when working with individual bits is as close to ideal as a general-purpose library can be, but the width of processor registers means that no amount of performance improvement at the individual bit level can compete with instructions operating on 32 or 64 bits at once. If you encounter performance bottlenecks, you can escape bitvec’s views to operate on the memory directly, or submit an issue for future work on specialized batch parallelization.

Project Structure

You should generally import the library prelude, with

use bitvec::prelude::*;

The prelude contains the basic symbols you will need to make use of the crate: the names of data structures, ordering parameters, useful traits, and constructor macros. Almost all symbols begin with the prefix Bit; only the orderings Lsb0, Msb0, and LocalBits do not. This will reduce the likelihood of name collisions.

Each major component in the library is divided into its own module. This includes each data structure and trait, as well as utility objects used for implementation. The data structures that mirror the language distribution have submodules for each part of their mirroring: api ports inherent methods, iter contains iteration logic, ops overrides operator sigils, and traits holds all other trait implementations. The data structure’s own module typically only contains its own definition and its inherent methods that are not ports of the standard libraries.



Memory access guards.


A statically-allocated, fixed-size, buffer containing a BitSlice region.


A dynamically-allocated, fixed-size, buffer containing a BitSlice region.


Representations of the BitSlice region memory model.


Batched load/store access to bitfields.


Well-typed counters and register descriptors.


Constructor macros for the crate’s collection types.


Memory element descriptions.


Ordering of bits within register elements.


bitvec symbol export.


Mirror of the core::ptr module and bitvec-specific pointer structures.


A dynamically-sized view into individual bits of a memory region.


Memory modeling.


A dynamically-allocated buffer containing a BitSlice region.


BitSlice view adapters for memory regions.



Constructs a new BitArray from a bit-pattern description.


Constructs a new BitBox from a bit-pattern description.


Creates a borrowed BitSlice in the local scope.


Constructs a new BitVec from a bit-pattern description.