binary

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binary

1. Maths Computing of, relating to, or expressed in binary notation or binary code
2. (of a compound or molecule) containing atoms of two different elements
3. Metallurgy (of an alloy) consisting of two components or phases
4. (of an educational system) consisting of two parallel forms of education such as the grammar school and the secondary modern in Britain
5. Maths Logic (of a relation, expression, or operation) applying to two elements of its domain; having two argument places; dyadic
6. Astronomy See binary star

binary

[′bīn·ə·rē]
(computer science)
Possessing a property for which there exists two choices or conditions, one choice excluding the other.
(science and technology)
Composed of or characterized by two parts or elements.

binary

(mathematics)
Base two. A number representation consisting of zeros and ones used by practically all computers because of its ease of implementation using digital electronics and Boolean algebra.

binary

(file format)

binary

(programming)
A description of an operator which takes two arguments. See also unary, ternary.

binary

Meaning two. The principle behind digital computers. All input to the computer is converted into binary digits that are either 0 or 1. For example, when you press the "A" key on your keyboard, the keyboard circuit generates and transfers the number 01000001 to the computer's RAM as a series of pulses with different voltages. The bits are stored as temporarily charged cells in RAM, as permanent charges in a solid state drive (SSD) or as microscopic magnets on a hard drive. The computer's display screen and printers convert the binary numbers into visual characters.

Circuits Are Binary
The electronic circuits that process these binary numbers are also binary in concept. They are made up of on/off switches (transistors) that are electrically opened and closed. The current flowing through one switch turns on (or off) another switch, and so on. These switches open and close in nanoseconds and picoseconds (billionths and trillionths of a second). See Boolean logic.

Smaller Spots - Faster Switches
A computer's capability to do work is based on its workspace capacity (RAM), storage capacity (disk or SSD) and the speed of its circuits. Greater capacities are achieved by making the memory cells or magnetic spots smaller. Faster circuit speeds are achieved by shortening the time it takes to open and close the transistor (electronic switch). In order to increase computer performance, we keep improving binary technologies. See binary numbers, binary values, binary file, binary standard and binaries.

How Binary Numbers Work


Binary numbers are actually simpler than decimal numbers as they use only the digits 0 and 1 instead of 0 through 9.

In decimal, when you add 9 and 1, you get 10. But, if you break down the steps, you find that by adding 9 and 1, what you get first is a result of 0 and a carry of 1. The carry of 1 is added to the digits in the next position on the left. In the following example, the carry becomes part of the answer since there are no other digits in that position.

             carry--19+  1____10


The following example adds 1 ten times in succession. Note that the binary method has more carries than the decimal method. In binary, 1 and 1 are 0 with a carry of 1.

  Binary      Decimal

                 0           0

              +  1        +  1
              ____        ____
                 1           1

              +  1        +  1
              ____        ____
                10           2

              +  1        +  1
              ____        ____
                11           3

              +  1        +  1
              ____        ____
               100           4

              +  1        +  1
              ____        ____
               101           5

              +  1        +  1
              ____        ____
               110           6

              +  1        +  1
              ____        ____
               111           7

              +  1        +  1
              ____        ____
              1000           8

              +  1        +  1
              ____        ____
              1001           9

              +  1        +  1
              ____        ____
              1010          10



For the True Geek
This Cadence wristwatch shows the numerals 1 to 12 in binary form. It takes four bits to contain all 12 digits. Note that the number 12 has the 4-bit and 8-bit turned on. (Image courtesy of Cadence Watch Company, www.cadencewatch.com)