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Binary Numbers - NetLingo The Internet Dictionary: Online Dictionary of Computer and Internet Terms, Acronyms, Text Messaging, Smileys ;-)

Binary Numbers

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What is the best way to use numbers? Most people are used to using only
the decimal system, with 10 digits. The theory behind it is that humans
have ten fingers, so miraculously the decimal system became popular. Some
suggested using base 12 instead, which has 2 more digits. the reason
behind this is that 12 is easier to work with in some cases, since it is
easily divisible by 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10. Others use base
8 (octal) and 16 (hexadecimal) for programming, but the undisputed
champion of all numbering system is binary, using only 0 and 1. Of course
you could try using unary systems, with only one digit, but then each
number would be even more of a pain to count.

Now, let's investigate the magic of binary. Find an unsuspecting person
and ask him or her how high he can count on his fingers. Tell him that
he must show, with his fingers, a given number such that it is not
mistakable. In other words, he cannot say that counting ten fingers will
also be good for 20 or 30, etc. Most people should say that they cannot
count higher than 10 on their fingers without repeating fingers. Respond
by telling them that you can count to 1024!

Here is an 8 bit binary number I saw on a license plate last Friday:
01101001. This number, in decimal, equals 105. Each bit position carries
a different weight. For example, let's look at 105 in decimal.

         1               0               5              = 105

        (1 * 100) +     (0 * 10) +      (5 * 1)         = 105

        (1 * 10^2) +    (0 * 10^1) +    (5 * 10^0)      = 105

Each digit in the number 105 carries a different value based upon the
number 10, which is the base value. The first digit, 1, is multiplied
by 10^2 (10 squared). The 0 is multiplied by 10^1 (just 10 will do),
and the 5 is multiplied by 10^0 (anything to the power of 0 is 1).


Now let's look at the binary equivalent. Each number will be generated in
the same way, except using base 2 instead of base 10.

     0   1   1   0   1   0   0   1                      = 105

    (0 * 2^7) + (1 * 2^6) + (1 * 2^5) + (0 * 2^4) +
    (1 * 2^3) + (0 * 2^2) + (0 * 2^1) + (1 * 2^0)       = 105


    FIGURE 1:
            10000000 2^7 = 128       00001000 2^3 = 8
            01000000 2^6 = 64        00000100 2^2 = 4
            00100000 2^5 = 32        00000010 2^1 = 2
            00010000 2^4 = 16        00000001 2^0 = 1

    So, substitute from the table and get:

    0*128 + 1*64 + 1*32 + 0*16 + 1*8 + 0*4 + 0*2 + 1*1  = 105


Here are the decimal and binary numbers from 1 to 16:

    FIGURE 2:
            1   0001                9   1001
            2   0010               10   1010
            3   0011               11   1011
            4   0100               12   1100
            5   0101               13   1101
            6   0110               14   1110
            7   0111               15   1111
            8   1000               16  10000

Now here is why it works this way. In decimal, let's say you have
100. You know that the number before it is 99. And when you get
up to 1000, you know the previous number is 999. In binary, it
works a little more interestingly. Let's say you have the binary
number 1000. this is 2^3, or 8 in decimal. Since binary only has
the numbers 0 and 1, the number before 1000 is 0111, or 7 in decimal.
On the above chart, decimal 16 is 10000 in binary. Subtract 1 and
you get 15 decimal, or 1111 in binary.

Now for more fun. Let's say we have 4 people, named: Mr. Ali, Mr. Fish,
Mr. Luck and Mrs. West. We want to know who will be attending the party.
Each person will either attend (TRUE) or not attend (FALSE). If TRUE,
a 1 is used. If FALSE, a 0 is used. Each person is also ordered
alphabetically. The data is stored in a binary number.

Mr. Ali is the man of honor, so he is attending. TRUE
Mr. Fish was busy backing up his disks with BRU, so he can't attend. FALSE
Mr. Luck hasn't been to the offices in a while, so he is going. TRUE
Mrs. West found a job working out of state, so she can't attend. FALSE

Now in binary, we are storing the answers in the order of the person's
name, alphabetically. So we have a TRUE, a FALSE, a TRUE, and a FALSE.
Above, we defined TRUE as equal to 1, and FALSE as equal to 0. This
makes the binary number 0101 (or F-T-F-T). NOTE! The numbers are stored
in REVERSE ORDER! If we had just 1, it would be no problem. If we add
another numeral, such as 0, it would be 01, so that 1 keeps the same
place (2^0).

Now, the question is, is Mr. Luck going? We have the data 0101, and we
know Mr. Luck is the 3rd digit from the right. We would check the number
0101 against the value used ot define Mr. Luck. Since Mr. Luck is the
third position, he takes 2^2 (2^1 is the second position, and 2^0 is the
first position). Now, 2^2 = 4 in decimal, so that is what we assign to
Mr. Luck. Now, let's convert 0101 to decimal.

    0*2^3 + 1*2^2 + 0*2^1 + 1*2^0 = 0 + 4 + 0 + 1 = 5 in decimal

Okay, our data equals 5. We take 5 and use the AND operation to check it
with 4. In C this might look like: if(DATA && MR_LUCK) or if(5 && 4) in
decimal or if(0101 && 0100) in binary.

Now let's look at the binary comparison:

    0101
    0100
     ^
    This is the position. Since 0101 AND 0100 both have that bit set to 1,
Mr. Luck is attending. Now in decimal, we have 0101 = 5 AMD 0100 = 4, or
5 AND 4. The only way to make 5 is by adding the numbers (2^2) and (2^0),
which is (2^2 = 4) = (2^0 = 1), or 4 + 1 = 5, so we have proven that 4
is included in the numbers of the binary places that add to 5 (see
FIGURE 1).


There is much much more to using binary, and it may be hard to understand
or read at first, but hopefully now you will know how to count to 1024
with just ten fingers. To give you a hint, try calculating 2^10!


I took this from the Amiga Online Reference Manual (with permission), to
show you what some number conversions look like. Take a look at the
patterns formed in the binary numbers and compare them with the decimal.
Note the numbers denoted by an "x".

    Index 7 ASCII Conversion Table

              BINARY        OCTAL     DECIMAL  CHAR  HEXD

           x 00000000        000        000    NUL    00
             00000001        001        001    SOH    01
           x 00000010        002        002    STX    02
             00000011        003        003    ETX    03
           x 00000100        004        004    EOT    04
             00000101        005        005    ENQ    05
             00000110        006        006    ACK    06
             00000111        007        007    BEL    07
           x 00001000        010        008    BS     08
             00001001        011        009    HT     09
             00001010        012        010    LF     0A
             00001011        013        011    VT     0B
             00001100        014        012    FF     0C
             00001101        015        013    CR     0D
             00001110        016        014    SO     0E
             00001111        017        015    SI     0F
           x 00010000        020        016    DLE    10
             00010001        021        017    DC1    11
             00010010        022        018    DC2    12
             00010011        023        019    DC3    13
             00010100        024        020    DC4    14
             00010101        025        021    NAK    15
             00010110        026        022    SYN    16
             00010111        027        023    ETB    17
             00011000        030        024    CAN    18
             00011001        031        025    EM     19
             00011010        032        026    SUB    1A
             00011011        033        027    ESC    1B
             00011100        034        028    FS     1C
             00011101        035        029    GS     1D
             00011110        036        030    RS     1E
             00011111        037        031    US     1F





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