Reading Binary Numbers

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The binary system is a numerical system differing from our usual one.

We have a base-10 system, which means that we have 10 digits (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9). Binary, on the other hand, is a base-2 system. It only has 0 and 1. This makes it much different.

My friend showed me an easy way to figure out binary. Imagine we have a 5-digit number in binary. It has 10 places. Let’s visualize those places:

[] [] [] [] []

Each place has a value of either 0 or 1,

[0] [1] [0] [0] [0]

but what do those places mean? We can use a simple method to read the value.

Starting at one, assign each place value in base-10 that doubles each time:

[1] [2] [4] [8] [16]

Now, when you’re reading the number, keep a sum. If any space is a 1, add the base-10 number to the sum. By the end, the sum is the binary number’s value.

Numerical Value124816
Binary Digit01000

By counting through and adding each 1, we get 2. 2 is the only numerical value that has a 1.

Be warned, the actual binary system goes in the opposite direction, so the first place would be 16 in this instance. But, this is a simple way to begin visualizing it.


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