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Explaining Binary: Everything you Need to Know

Do you ever think about how far the world has come in technological developments? Knowing that computers that you use today once started with only two digits: 0’s and 1’s is stunning. This system of 0’s and 1’s, known as the Binary system, was the base behind all the modern technology today.

Surprisingly, the binary system was used to perform simple calculations on room-sized computers. The machines back then used the binary system to send humans into space. This system was based only on two digits but was powerful enough to help 21st-century technology evolve. 

Learning a binary system and how it works is not considered efficient these days. The lower level binary language is not needed to develop anything. The higher-end languages take care of everything, from databases to cloud servicing. 

This article will explain the basics of the binary language and give you an overview of what is binary number system.

A little overview of the history of binary

The binary system that you know today was invented in the 17th century. It was developed and proposed by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who created it around 1679 and published it in 1703. Fast forward to the mid-20th century, it was the era of the race to the moon and World War 2. All the machines and computers at that time worked at a bit level using the same binary system.

Humans have been using the decimal number system for a very long time. It is the most straightforward number system to perform basic arithmetic. We use the decimal system as we have ten fingers, so performing basic arithmetic operations gets easier.

The connection between computers and the binary system can also be considered the same. The computers in their earlier days had vacuum tubes that evolved into semiconductor transistors. Each of these took only two inputs:

  • Off:  represent with a “0” in binary
  • On: represent with a “1” in binary

So, strings(0000 0001 1000, etc.) were made with these two digits, which were the input for the early computers.

How is the binary number system applicable in today’s world?

Today most software developers do not need to know how their software communicates with the hardware. The higher-level programming languages have made development easier. Hence, there is no need to learn the binary system in most cases. Yet, binary has still not completely lost its importance in today’s world.

All the logic gates are based in Binary

The binary system follows the concept of everything either being on or off. By using only two states, you can design any logic. It is much easier to create with the binary system as there are only two values to work on. So, when planning any new hardware based on logic, knowing how the binary system works is essential.

Learning how to program a computer needs knowledge of binary systems.

While programming, you must know how the software will communicate with the hardware. The high-level languages are not capable of doing this. The lower-level languages like Assembly can provide more control over hardware.

Assembly language and lower-level languages either use binary or hexadecimal systems. So, binary language is essential to know how these systems work and the communication between software and computer hardware.

How does the binary number system work?

As discussed before,  the system has a system of base 2. It means that the binary system only works on 0 and 1. These numbers are represented as a string where every digit represents a power of 2 (2,4, …, 64, and so on). It is how you deal with binary number systems in theory.

How the binary number system works practically?

Practically, every digit in a binary code represents an electric pulse. So, for every 0, the electric pulse will be off, while for every 1, the electric pulse will be on. Transistors, logic gates, and computers use that electric pulse to perform operations.

At a 1 or an On signal, the switch opens, letting the pulse pass through the circuit. At a 0 or an Off signal, the switch closes. In that case, the pulse is blocked there.

You might be thinking that if the binary system itself works only on two digits. How can it perform arithmetic operations on a decimal number system (base 10) with ten digits (0-9)? That’s where the binary code comes in.

What is binary code?

Knowing what is the binary code for a specific number or how you work with binary codes is not that complex. You just need to do some calculations, and you can easily convert binary from decimal and vice versa. How you convert numbers among different bases is how the binary code works.

What is binary code in bits?

When learning binary code, you represent every decimal number with four binary bits. So, a 0 in decimal will be represented as 0000 in binary. What is the binary code for a decimal number 8? In this system of 4 bits, the binary code for 8 (decimal) will be 0100.

These four bits are used for the following four basic arithmetic operations:

  • Addition
  • Multiplication
  • Subtraction
  • Division

The process of binary operations(addition example):

Here are the steps that take place in a fundamental addition operation inside a calculator:

  1. The decimal number that is input from humans is converted into binary by the calculator
  2. The basic arithmetic operation is applied to the binary number
  3. The resultant binary number is then shown after converting the binary code into a decimal number

The example above represents a simple addition operation. For other operations, the basic operations can be combined and then performed on binary numbers.

Start learning with Sololearn today!

Just like learning other coding languages, it is essential to understand what is binary number system. Using only two digits, you can represent various binary codes as the base for our logic. The binary system has helped technology advance over the centuries. By learning the binary language, you can further develop the technologies to help us get more control over the computer hardware.

There is always something new to learn with so many programming languages. There could be many challenges while learning a programming language. Sololearn offers a straightforward learning experience by keeping things simple. If you want to learn a programming language, start with Sololearn today!