Binary Number System: Application & Advantages Video

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  • 0:03 What Is the Binary System?
  • 0:56 Applications
  • 2:00 Advantages
  • 2:57 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Karsner
All computers use a binary number system, that relies upon just two symbols, typically 0 and 1. In this lesson, you'll learn about the advantages of using the binary number system, as well as some of its practical applications.

What Is the Binary System?

There is a bumper sticker out there that reads:

'There are 10 kinds of people, those who understand binary and those who don't.'

If you don't already understand why this is funny, you will by the end of this lesson.

The most commonly used number system, called base-ten, uses ten digits: 0-9. By comparison, the binary number system, or base-two, is a counting technique that uses two digits: 0 and 1. Here, the prefix 'bi' means 'two.'

In this system, each place value is a power of two, where the first place to the left of the decimal point is 2^0, the second place is 2^1 and so on. Each number is called a bit and is pronounced separately. For example, when referring to this binary number:


We'd say 'one zero one one.'


The most common application for the binary number system can be found in computer technology. All computer language and programming is based on the 2-digit number system used in digital encoding. Digital encoding is the process of taking data and representing it with discreet bits of information. These discreet bits consist of the 0s and 1s of the binary system.

For example, the images you see on your computer screen have been encoded with a binary line for each pixel. If a screen is using a 16-bit code, then each pixel has been told what color to display based on which bits are 0s and which bits are 1s. As a result, 2^16 represents 65,536 different colors!

We also find the binary number system in a branch of mathematics known as Boolean algebra. This field of mathematics is concerned with logic and truth values. Here, statements that are either true or false are then assigned a 0 or 1.

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