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Binary encoding
Introduction to binary
In the late 1930s, Claude Shannon showed that by using switches which were closed for "true" and open for "false," it was possible to carry out logical operations by assigning the number 1 to "true" and 0 for "false."
This information encoding system is called binary. It's the form of encoding that allows computers to run. Binary uses two states (represented by the digits 0 and 1) to encode information.
Since 2000 BCE, humans have counted using 10 digits (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). This is called "decimal base" (or base 10). However, older civilizations, and even some current applications, used and still use other number bases:
 Sexagesimal (60), used by the Sumerians. This base is also used in our current system of timekeeping, for minutes and seconds;
 Vicesimal (20), used by the Mayans;
 Duodecimal (12), used in the monetary systems of the United Kingdom and Ireland until 1971: A "pound" was worth twenty "shillings," and a "shilling" was worth twelve "pence". The current system of timekeeping is also based around twelve hours (particularly in American usage);
 Quinary (5), used by the Mayans;
 Binary (2), used by all digital technology.
The bit
The term bit (shortened to a lowercase b) means "binary digit", meaning 0 or 1 in binary numbering. It is the smallest unit of information which can be manipulated by a digital machine. It is possible to represent this binary information:
 with an electrical or magnetic signal, which, beyond a certain threshold, stands for 1;
 By the roughness of bumps in a surface;
 using flipflops, electrical components which have two stable states (one standing for 1, the other 0).
Therefore, a bit can be set to one of two states: either 1 or 0. With two bits, you can have four different states (2*2):
0  0 
0  1 
1  0 
1  1 
With 3 bits, you can have eight different states (2*2*2):
3bit binary value  Decimal value 

000  0 
001  1 
010  2 
011  3 
100  4 
101  5 
110  6 
111  7 
For a group of n bits, it is possible to represent 2^{n} values
Bit values
In a binary number, a bit's value, depends on its position, starting from the right. Like tens, hundreds, and thousands in a decimal number, a bit's value grows by a power of two as it goes from right to left, as shown in the following chart:
Binary number  1  1  1  1  1  1  1  1 

value  2^{7} = 128  2^{6} = 64  2^{5} = 32  2^{4} = 16  2^{3} = 8  2^{2} = 4  2^{1} = 2  2^{0} = 1 
Conversion
To convert a binary string into a decimal number, multiply the value of each bit by its weight, then add together the products. Therefore, the binary string 0101, in decimal, comes to:
2^{3}x0 + 2^{2}x1 + 2^{1}x0 + 2^{0}x1
= 8x0 + 4x1 + 2x0 + 1x1
= 5
The byte
The byte (shortened to uppercase B) is a unit of information composed of 8 bits. It can be used to store, among other things, a character, such as a letter or number.
Grouping numbers in clusters of 8 makes them easier to read, much as grouping numbers in threes helps to make thousands clearer when working in base10. For example, the number "1,256,245" is easier to read than "1256245".
A 16bit unit of information is usually called a word.
A 32bit unit of information is called a double word (sometimes called a dword).
For a byte, the smallest number possible is 0 (represented by eight zeroes, 00000000), and the largest is 255 (represented by eight ones, 11111111), making for 256 different possible values.
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2^{7} =128  2^{6} =64  2^{5} =32  2^{4} =16  2^{3} =8  2^{2} =4  2^{1} =2  2^{0} =1 
0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0 
1  1  1  1  1  1  1  1 
Kilobytes and Megabytes
For a long time, computer science was unusual it that it used different values for its units than metric system (also called the International System). Computer users would often learn that 1 kilobyte was made up of 1024 bytes. For this reason, in December 1998, the International Electrotechnical Commission weighed in on the issue (http://physics.nist.gov/cuu/Units/binary.html). Here are the IEC's standardized units:
 One kilobyte (kB) = 1000 bytes
 One megabyte (MB) = 1000 kB = 1,000,000 bytes
 One gigabyte (GB) = 1000 MB = 1,000,000,000 bytes
 One terabyte (TB) = 1000 GB = 1,000,000,000,000 bytes
Warning! Some software (and even some operating systems) still use the pre1998 notation, which is as follows:

The IEC has also defined binary kilo (kibi), binary mega (mebi), binary giga (gibi), and binary tera (tebi).
They are defined as:
 One kibibyte (kiB) is worth 2^{10} = 1024 bytes
 One mebibyte (MiB) is worth 2^{20} = 1,048,576 bytes
 One gibibyte (GiB) is worth 2^{30} = 1,073,741,824 bytes
 One tebibyte (TiB) is worth 2^{40} = 1,099,511,627,776 bytes
In some languages, such as French and Finnish, the word for byte does not begin with "b", but the international community, on the whole, generally prefers the English term "byte." This gives the following notations for kilobyte, megabyte, gigabyte, and terabyte:
kB, MB, GB, TB
Note the use of an uppercase B to distinguish Byte from bit. 
This is a screenshot from the software HTTrack,the most popular offline web browser, showing how this notation is used:
Binary operations
Simple arithemtic operations such as addition, subtraction, and multiplication are easily performed in binary.
Addition in binary
Addition in binary follows the same rules as in decimal:
Start by adding the lowestvalued bits (those on the right) and carry the value over to the next place when the sum of two bits in the same position is greater than the largest value of the unit (in binary: 1). This value is then carried over to the bit in the next position.
For example:
0  1  1  0  1  
+  0  1  1  1  0 
           
1  1  0  1  1 
Multiplication in binary
The multiplication table in binary is simple:
 0x0=0
 0x1=0
 1x0=0
 1x1=1
Multiplication is performed by calculating a partial product for each multiplier (only the nonzero bits will give a nonzero result) When the bit of the multiplier is zero, the partial product is null; when it is equal to one, the partial product is formed from the multiplicand, shifted X places, where X is equal to the weight of the multiplier bit.
For example:
0  1  0  1 multiplicand  
x  0  0  1  0 multiplier  
           
0  0  0  0  
0  1  0  1  
0  0  0  0  
           
0  1  0  1  0 
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See also
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 Decimal to binary encoder explanation
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