Skip to main content

shift register

shift register A register that has the ability to transfer information in a lateral direction. It is an n-stage clocked device whose output consists of an n-bit parallel data word (see diagram). Application of a single clock cycle to the device causes the output word to be shifted by one bit position from right to left (or from left to right). The leftmost (or rightmost) bit is lost from the “end” of the register while the rightmost (or leftmost) bit position is loaded from a serial input terminal. The device may also be capable of being loaded with parallel n-bit data words, these then being shifted out of the device in serial form. See also serial in parallel out, parallel in serial out, parallel in parallel out, serial in serial out.

Shift registers with parallel outputs, and with combinational logic fed from those outputs (see combinational circuit), are of great importance in digital signal processing, and in the encoding and decoding of error-correcting and error-detecting codes. Such registers may be implemented in hardware or in software, and may be binary or q-ary. (Hardware implementation is usually convenient only for binary and sometimes ternary logic.) See feedback register, feed-forward (shift) register, Good–de Bruijn diagram.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"shift register." A Dictionary of Computing. . 20 Apr. 2019 <>.

"shift register." A Dictionary of Computing. . (April 20, 2019).

"shift register." A Dictionary of Computing. . Retrieved April 20, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.