Binary Values and Number Systems

Summary

Binary is a base-2 positional numbering system not unlike the more familiar decimal, or base-10, system used in everyday life. In these systems, the value or "worth" of a digit depends not only on its absolute value but also on its specific position within a number.

In the decimal system, there are 10 unique digits (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 , 9) and the value of the positions in a decimal number is based on powers of 10. Moving from right to left in a number, the positions represent ones (100), tens (101), hundreds (102), thousands (103), and so on.

The same concepts apply to binary numbers except that there are only two digits, 0 and 1, and the value of the positions in a binary number is based on powers of 2. Moving from right to left, the positions represent ones (20), twos (21), fours (22), eithts (23), sixteen (24), and so on.

In addition to binary, computer sciece makes frequent use of octal (base-8) and hexadecimal (base-16).

Base 2, base 8, and base 16 are all related because these bases are powers of 2. This relationship provides a quick way to convert between numbers in these bases.

Computer hardware is designed using numbers in base 2. A low-voltage signal is equated with 0, and a high-voltage signal is equated with 1.

Social Issues

Digital documents consist solely of streams of binary digits or bits, a seemingly endless series of ones and zeroes; they lack the distinctive, semi-permanent physical attributes of a written document.

Digital documents consist solely of streams of binary digits or bits, a seemingly endless series of ones and zeroes; they lack the distinctive, semi-permanent physical attributes of a written document.

Digital and Electronic signatures attract various technical issues; the major concern lies in legal validity and authentication issues, in determining the security concern over business profitability.

Digital signatures accompany files that are encrypted as well as files that are not encrypted. The digital signature of a file is generated through the convolution of the files over a certain function, creating a unique key. That is, the file is passed through a mathematical algorithm, usually a binary one, and at the end, a short numerical sequence, a string, is produced.