3 - Decimal, Binary, Octal, & Hexadecimal

Uploaded by MyWhyU on 13.09.2011

Hello. I’m Professor Von Schmohawk and welcome to Why U.
In the previous lectures, we explored some examples of the earliest number systems
which were used primarily for counting objects.
These counting numbers are called “natural numbers”.
The natural numbers start at one and can count to arbitrarily large quantities.
As we have seen, Roman numerals are one of many possible ways to represent natural numbers.
The Roman system was eventually replaced with the modern decimal number system
which uses “positional notation” and only ten numeric symbols.
The decimal number system was found to be superior to the ancient Roman system
because of the simple rules it uses to create numbers.
In the decimal system there are ten numeric symbols, 0 through 9, called “digits”.
Depending on the column they occupy
these digits represent the quantity of ones
and so on
which make up the number.
In positional notation, the column occupied by a digit
determines the “multiplier” for that digit.
For example, in the decimal system
the value of the right-most digit is multiplied by 1.
The digit in the next column to the left is multiplied by 10.
The next digit is multiplied by 100 and so on.
The value of a number is the sum of all its digits times their multipliers.
For example, the value of the decimal number 1879
is 1 times 1000
plus 8 times 100
plus 7 times 10
plus 9 times 1.
In any positional notation, each column’s multiplier differs from the adjacent column
by a constant multiple called the “base” of the number system.
In the decimal system, each column multiplier is ten times the previous column.
Therefore the decimal system is called a “base-10” number system.
There are an infinite number of columns in the decimal number system
with each column multiplier being ten times bigger than the column to the right.
However, when writing a number, the zeros in front are normally not written.
We can count up to 9
using only the ones column.
Once we reach 9
the ones column starts over at 0
and the tens column increments.
As we continue counting
the tens column counts the number of times
that the ones column has passed from 9 to 0.
In other words, the tens column registers the number of tens which we have counted.
This continues until we reach 99.
At that point the ones and tens columns start over at 0
and the hundreds column increments.
The positional notation system is simple.
Every time a column passes from 9 to 0
the next column to the left increments.
How is it that we ended up with a number system based on multiples of ten?
There is not any good reason for choosing ten over some other number
other than the fact that people have ten fingers
and probably originally communicated quantities using their fingers.
But what if we were cartoon characters with four digits on each hand?
Is it possible that in cartoon land
everyone uses a number system based on multiples of eight instead of ten?
How would a base-8 or “octal” number system work?
In octal there are only eight numeric symbols instead of ten as in decimal.
Instead of 0 through 9 the symbols 0 through 7 are used.
The symbols 8 and 9 are not needed.
Counting in octal is very similar to counting in decimal.
Since there are no symbols for 8 or 9
the highest quantity which can be represented in the ones column is 7.
Counting an eighth item causes the ones column to start over at 0
and the next column to increment.
So the second column counts the number of eights.
Therefore in octal the number following 7 is 10
which looks just like the decimal number ten.
After octal 10 comes octal 11, 12, and so on
until we get to octal 17.
At that point, we go to octal 20.
The second column has now counted two “eights” or sixteen.
We continue like this until we get to the highest number we can represent with two digits
octal 77.
At that point, the ones and eights columns start over at 0 and the third column increments.
The 1 in the third column represents eight “eights” or sixty-four.
Each column multiplier is eight times the previous one.
Every number which can be written in decimal can also be written in octal
although after counting to 7
the way the quantities are represented is completely different.
It is easy to convert an octal number to decimal
when you consider how positional notation works.
Let’s take for example, the octal number 1750.
As in decimal, the value of the octal number is the sum of all its digits times their multipliers.
So the number 1750 represents
1 times 512
plus 7 times 64
plus 5 times 8
plus 0 ones
which adds up to the quantity which in decimal is called one-thousand.
You may sometimes see a small subscript 8 or 10 after an octal or decimal number
in case there may be some confusion about which base is being used.
Digital computers use electronic circuits called “flip-flops” to represent numbers.
Each flip-flop can store a single bit which can represent either a 0 or a 1.
Multiple bits can be combined to represent a base-2 or “binary” number.
In the binary number system 0 and 1 are the only two numeric symbols.
Since binary is base-2
each column multiplier is two times the multiplier of the previous digit.
And just like decimal or octal numbers
the value of a binary number is sum of all its digits times their multipliers.
Since the digits are either 1 or 0 the calculation is simple.
We just add the multipliers of all the columns which contain ones.
For example, the binary number 11010
represents 1 sixteen
plus 1 eight
plus 1 two
which is equal to twenty-six.
Even though digital computers store numbers in binary
it can be quite tedious to write down or remember large binary numbers.
For instance, the number one-million in binary is
one one one one
zero one zero one
one zero zero one
one zero one one
zero zero zero zero.
Early in the history of digital computers
engineers found that it was easier to use octal notation
than to deal with long strings of ones and zeros.
Three binary digits can be represented by a single octal symbol.
It is easy to memorize the eight possible combinations of three binary bits.
To convert a multiple-digit octal number to binary
each octal digit in the number is converted to a 3-bit binary equivalent
and the binary digits are all combined into a single binary number.
Any leading zeros can be removed.
To convert a binary number to octal we do the same thing in reverse.
To convert this binary number back to octal
we split it into 3-bit groups starting from the right
and each 3-bit group is then converted to its equivalent octal symbol.
So the octal equivalent to this binary number is 3654660
a lot easier to remember than all those ones and zeros.
Today, computer storage is normally organized into 8-bit groups called "bytes".
Because of this, many computer engineers prefer to use base-16
otherwise known as “hexadecimal” or “hex” instead of octal.
With hexadecimal, every group of four bits converts to a single hex symbol.
Two hex symbols represent exactly one byte.
Even fewer digits than octal are required to represent a given number
and it's just as easy to convert back and forth to binary.
Hexadecimal numbers use sixteen numeric symbols.
The symbols 0 through 9 are used just as in decimal
but six more symbols are needed.
Instead of making up new symbols, the letters A through F are used
to represent what we call ten through fifteen in decimal.
Counting in hexadecimal works the same way as in decimal or octal
except that hex uses sixteen symbols per digit.
Because each column multiplier is sixteen times larger than the previous column
hexadecimal can represent large numbers
with fewer digits than octal or decimal.
When counting in hexadecimal
after getting to F which is decimal 15
we go to 10 which is decimal 16
then 11, 12, and so on.
Once we reach 1F
we go to 20 which is decimal 32.
When we get to the largest number which we can represent with two hex digits, FF
we go to 100 which is decimal 256
and so on.
As we mentioned
using hex notation, four binary bits can be represented by a single hex symbol.
Each of the sixteen possible combinations of four bits
is equivalent to a single hex digit.
Let's convert the same binary number as before to hex.
Starting from the right, we group the digits into groups of four.
Each group of binary digits is then converted to its equivalent hex symbol.
So we have seen how the same natural number
can be represented in base-2 using two numeric symbols
base-8 using eight symbols
base-10 using ten symbols
and base-16 using sixteen symbols.
But no matter how we choose to write this natural number
it still represents the same quantity.
As you have seen
we use the same basic rules for counting in binary
and hexadecimal.
The only difference is that each base has a different number of numeric symbols.
So using positional notation
we can create a number system using any natural base we like.
Try creating one of your own.
Who knows, it might catch on!