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a number system having a base 16; the symbols for the numbers 0--9 are the same as those used in the decimal system, and the numbers 10--15 are usually represented by the letters A--F. The system is used as a convenient way of representing the internal binary code of a computer

[‚hek·sə′des·məl]
(mathematics)
Pertaining to a number system using the base 16. Also known as sexadecimal.

(mathematics)
(Or "hex") Base 16. A number representation using the digits 0-9, with their usual meaning, plus the letters A-F (or a-f) to represent hexadecimal digits with values of (decimal) 10 to 15. The right-most digit counts ones, the next counts multiples of 16, then 16^2 = 256, etc.

For example, hexadecimal BEAD is decimal 48813:

digit weight value B = 11 16^3 = 4096 11*4096 = 45056 E = 14 16^2 = 256 14* 256 = 3584 A = 10 16^1 = 16 10* 16 = 160 D = 13 16^0 = 1 13* 1 = 13 ----- BEAD = 48813

There are many conventions for distinguishing hexadecimal numbers from decimal or other bases in programs. In C for example, the prefix "0x" is used, e.g. 0x694A11.

Hexadecimal is more succinct than binary for representing bit-masks, machines addresses, and other low-level constants but it is still reasonably easy to split a hex number into different bit positions, e.g. the top 16 bits of a 32-bit word are the first four hex digits.

The term was coined in the early 1960s to replace earlier "sexadecimal", which was too racy and amusing for stuffy IBM, and later adopted by the rest of the industry.

Actually, neither term is etymologically pure. If we take "binary" to be paradigmatic, the most etymologically correct term for base ten, for example, is "denary", which comes from "deni" (ten at a time, ten each), a Latin "distributive" number; the corresponding term for base sixteen would be something like "sendenary". "Decimal" is from an ordinal number; the corresponding prefix for six would imply something like "sextidecimal". The "sexa-" prefix is Latin but incorrect in this context, and "hexa-" is Greek. The word octal is similarly incorrect; a correct form would be "octaval" (to go with decimal), or "octonary" (to go with binary). If anyone ever implements a base three computer, computer scientists will be faced with the unprecedented dilemma of a choice between two *correct* forms; both "ternary" and "trinary" have a claim to this throne.
References in periodicals archive ?
The mean of the data bytes in decimal format was converted to hexadecimal to get an estimated average of the luminance of each image and its corresponding gradient after the pixel sorting process.
Different bits of the entered hexadecimal numbers are taken to form a binary vector (see the last process above).
Test Hexadecimal Test Hexadecimal Test data number data number data 0000 0 0100 4 1000 0001 1 0101 5 1001 0010 2 0110 6 1010 0011 3 0111 7 1011 Test Hexadecimal Test Hexadecimal data number data number 0000 8 1100 C 0001 9 1101 D 0010 A 1110 E 0011 B 1111 F TABLE 2: CEBM.
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Posteriormente con la herramienta HEXEDIT el archivo WAV ha sido convertido a un formato hexadecimal que posteriormente se ha grabado en la memoria EEPROM.
A particularly likely source of error that he does not mention may have arisen in the translation of numbers from hexadecimal to decimal notation, as pointed out by Philip Metzger (personal communication).
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