It was always difficult for people to accept
the fact that some things differ from them or their way of thinking. That
is probably one of the reasons why numerical systems which differ from a
decimal are still hard to understand. Still, whether we want it or not,
reality is different. Decimal numerical system that people use in everyday
life is so far behind the binary system used by millions of computers
around the world.
Decimal numerical system is defined by its
basis 10 and decimal space that is counted from right to left, and
consists of numbers 0,1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. That means that the end
right digit of the total sum is multiplied by 1, next one by 10, next by
Operations of addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication in a decimal numerical system are used in a way that is already known to us, so we won't discuss it further.
Binary numerical system differs in many
aspects from the decimal system we are used to in our everyday lives. Its
numerical basis is 2, and each number can have only two values, '1' or
'0'. Binary numerical system is used in computers and microcontrollers
because it is far more suitable for processing than a decimal system.
Usually, binary number consists of binary digits 8, 16 or 32, and it is
not important in view of the contents of our book to discuss why. It will
be enough for now to adopt this information.
10011011 binary number with 8 digits
In order to understand the logic of binary numbers, we will consider an example. Let's say that we have a small chest with four drawers, and that we need to tell someone to bring something from one of the drawers to us. Nothing is more simple, we will say left side, bottom (drawer), and the desired drawer is clearly defined. However, if we had to do this without the use of instructions like left, right, beneath, above, etc., then we would have a problem. There are many solution to this problem, but we should look for one that is most beneficent and practical! Lets designate rows with A, and types with B. If A=1, it refers to the upper row of drawers, and for A=0, bottom row. Similarly with columns, B=1 represents the left column, and B=0, the right (next picture). Now it is already easier to explain from which drawer we need something. We simply need to state one of the four combinations: 00, 01, 10 or 11. This characteristic naming of each drawer individually is nothing but binary numerical representation, or conversion of common numbers from a decimal into binary form. In other words, references like "first, second, third and fourth" are exchanged with "00,01, 10 and 11".
What remains is for us to get acquainted with
logic that is used with binary numerical system, or how to get a numerical
value from a series of zeros and ones in a way we can understand, of
course. This procedure is called conversion from a binary to a decimal
As you can see, converting a binary number
into a decimal number is done by calculating the expression on the left
side. Depending on the position in a binary number, digits carry different
values which are multiplied by themselves, and by adding them we get a
decimal number we can understand. Let's further suppose that there are few
marbles in each of the drawers: 2 in the first one, 4 in the second
drawer, 7 in the third and 3 in the fourth drawer. Let's also say to the
one who's opening the drawers to use binary representation in answer.
Under these conditions, question would be as follows: "How many marbles
are there in 01?", and the answer would be: "There are 100 marbles in 01."
It should be noted that both question and the answer are very clear even
though we did not use the standard terms. It should further be noted that
for decimal numbers from 0 to 3 it is enough to have two binary digits,
and that for all values above that we must add new binary digits. So, for
numbers from 0 to 7 it is enough to have three digits, for numbers from 0
to 15, four, etc. Simply said, the biggest number that can be represented
by a binary digit is the one obtained when basis 2 is graded onto a number
of binary digits in a binary number and thus obtained number is
decremented by one.
This means that it is possible to represent
decimal numbers from 0 to 15 with 4 binary digits, including numbers '0'
and '15', or 16 different values.
Addition is done so that digits in the same
numerical positions are added, similar to the decimal numerical system. If
both digits being added are zero, their sum remains zero, and if they are
'0' and '1', result is '1'. The sum of two ones gives two, in binary
representation it will be a zero, but with transferring '1' to a higher
position that is added to digits from that
We can check whether result is correct by
transferring these number to decimal numerical system and by performing
addition in it. With a transfer we get a value 10 as the first number,
value 9 as the second, and value 19 as the sum. Thus we have proven that
operation was done correctly. Trouble comes when sum is greater than what
can be represented by a binary number with a given number of binary
digits. Different solutions can be applied then, one of which is expanding
the number of binary digits in the sum as in the previous
By checking the result as we did with addition, when we translate these binary numbers we get decimal numbers 10 and 9. Their difference corresponds to number 1 which is what we get in subtraction.
Hexadecimal numerical system has a number 16
as its basis. Since the basis of a numerical system is 16, there are 16
different digits that can be found in a hexadecimal number. Those digits
are "0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, C, D, E, F". Letters A, B, C, D,
E and F are nothing but values 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15. They are
introduced as a replacement to make writing easier. As with a binary
system, here too, we can determine with same formula what is the biggest
decimal number we can represent with a specific number of hexadecimal
Usually, hexadecimal number is written with a
prefix "$" or "0x" ,or suffix"h" , to emphasize the numerical system.
Thus, number A37E would be written more correctly as $A37E, 0xA37E, or
A37Eh. In order to translate a hexadecimal number into a binary numerical
system it is not necessary to perform any calculation but simple exchange
of hexadecimal digits with binary digits. Since the maximum value of a
hexadecimal number is 15, that means that it is enough to use 4 binary
digits for one hexadecimal digit.
By checking, that is transferring both
numbers into decimal numerical system, we get a number 228 which proves
the accuracy of our action.
Addition is, like in two preceding examples,
performed in a similar manner.
We need to add corresponding number digits.
If their sum is equal 16, write 0 and transfer one to the next higher
place. If their sum is greater than 16, write value above and transfer 1
to the next higher digit.Eg. if sum is 19 (19=16+3) write 3 and transfer 1
to the next higher place. By checking, we get 14891 as the first number,
and second is 43457. Their sum is 58348, which is a number $E3EC when it
is transferred into a decimal numerical system. Subtraction is an
identical process to those in previous two numerical systems. If the
number we are subtracting is smaller, we borrow from the next place
of higher value.
By checking this result, we get values 11590 for the first number and 5970 for the second, where their difference is 5620, which corresponds to a number $15F4 after a transfer into a decimal numerical system.
Binary numerical system is still the one that is most in use, decimal the one that's easiest to understand, and a hexadecimal is somewhere between those two systems. It's easy conversion to a binary numerical system and easy memorization make it, along with binary and decimal systems, one of the most important numerical systems.