Encyclopedia Article

# Binary Number System - Research Article from World of Mathematics

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The binary number system, base two, uses only two symbols, 0 and 1. Two is the smallest whole number that can be used as the base of a number system. For many years, mathematicians saw base two as a primitive system and overlooked the potential of the binary system as a tool for developing computer science and many electrical devices.

Base two has several other names, including the binary positional numeration system and the dyadic system. Many civilizations have used the binary system in some form, including inhabitants of Australia, Polynesia, South America, and Africa. Ancient Egyptian arithmetic depended on the binary system. Records of Chinese mathematics trace the binary system back to the fifth century and possibly earlier. The Chinese were probably the first to appreciate the simplicity of noting integers as sums of powers of 2, with each coefficient being 0 or 1. For example, the number...