Introduction to number systems and binary | Pre-Algebra | Khan Academy
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Introduction to number systems and binary | Pre-Algebra | Khan Academy

– [Voiceover] For as long as human beings have been around we’ve been counting things, and we’ve been looking for ways to keep track and represent those things that we counted. So, for example if you were an early human and you were trying to keep track of the days since it last rained you might say okay let’s see it didn’t rain today so one day has gone by, and we now use the word one, but they might have not used it back then. Now another day goes by. Then another day goes by. Then another day goes by. Another day goes by. Another day goes by. Another day goes by, then it rained. And so when his friend comes he says, “Well, how long has it been since we last rained.” Well you would say, “Well, this is how many days it’s been.” And your friend would say, “Okay, I think I have a general sense of that.” And at some point they probably realized that it’s useful to have names for these. So they would call this one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Obviously every language in the world has different names for these. I’m sure there are lost languages that had other names for them. But very quickly you start to realize that this is a pretty bulky way of representing numbers. One it takes a long time to write down. It takes up a lot of space, and then later if someone wants to read the number they have to sit here and count. It’s hard enough with seven, but you could imagine if there were what we call 27 of it, or 1000 of it. Then it would take up, possibly, a whole page and even when you counted you might make a mistake. And to solve this human beings have invented number systems. And it’s something that
we take for granted. You might say, “Oh, isn’t that just the way you’ve always counted? But hopefully over the course of this video you’ll start to appreciate the beauty of a number system and to realize our number system isn’t the only number system that is around. The number system that most of us are familiar with is the base 10 number system. Often called the decimal, the decimal number system. And why 10? Well probably because we have 10 fingers. Or most of us have 10 fingers. So, it was very natural to think in terms of bundles of 10 or to have 10 symbols. So however many bundles you have you can use your fingers and eventually your symbols to think
about how many there are. And since we needed 10 symbols we came up with zero,
one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. These 10 digits, these are our 10 symbols that we use in the base 10 system. To just give us a little bit of a reminder how we use them imagine the number 231. So, 231. 231. What does this represent? Well, what’s neat about number systems is we have place value. This place all the way to the right, this is the ones place. This is the ones place. This literally means one, one. One bundle of one. So, this is one, one right over here. This right over here,
this is in the 10s place. This is in the 10s place. This three here,
literally means three 10s. So this literally means three 10s. And this two here, this two here is in the 100s place. It’s in the 100s place. So, this represent two 100s. You add them together and once again I’m still thinking in base 10, you’d get 231. This is two 100s plus three 10s plus one. In our base 10 system notice every time we move to the left we’re thinking in bundles of 10 of the space to the right. So, this is the ones place. You multiply by 10, you
go to the 10s place. You want to go to the next place you multiply by 10 again. You get the 100s place. If you’re familiar with exponents, one is the same thing
as 10 to the zero power. 10 is the same thing as
10 to the first power. So this is the 10s place. Three tens. And 100 is the same thing as 10 to the second power. Obviously we could keep going on and on and on and on and on. That is the power of the base 10 system. So, you might be curious now. “Well, what if this wasn’t 10 here? What if we did, let’s just go as simple as we can. You can almost view this as a base one system. You only have one symbol right over here. But what if we went to something slightly more complex, a base two system. You’d be happy to know that not only can we do this, but the base two system often called the binary system. This is called the decimal system. The base two system often called the binary system is the basis of all modern computing. It’s the underlying mathematics and operations that computers perform are based on binary. And in binary you have two symbols. You have zero and you have one. The reason why this is
useful for computation is because all the hardware that we use to make our modern computers, all of the transistors and the logic gates they either result in
an on or an off state. On or an off state. And so what we do is when you use your calculator or whatever you might be operating in base 10, but underlying everything it is doing the operations in binary. But you might say well how do we actually think in terms of binary? Well, we can construct
similar places here, but instead of them being powers of 10 they’re going to be powers of two. So, let’s set up some places here. So, all the way on the right two to the zero power is still one. So we can still call that the ones place. Then we can move to the left of that. We can move to the left of that. That would be two to the first power. So we could call that the twos place, and I can even write it out if I want. Twos place instead of the 10s place. Then I could keep going. Instead of this space being the 10 to the second or the 100s place, it will be the two to the second, or the fours place. And I can keep going. I encourage you actually to pause the video and try to build this out for yourself. What would this be? Well this would be two to the third, or the eights place. Notice every time we’re doing this we’re multiplying by two. Everytime we go to the left, just like we multiplied by 10 here. So notice everywhere you see this 10s we’re now dealing with twos. Let’s keep going. Let’s keep going and then we can actually represent this number using binary. So, let’s do that. So, this right over here I’ve already used that color. This right over here, this is two to the fourth. We could call that the 16s place. Then we could have — I’ll reuse some of these colors. This is two to the fifth. We could call this the 32s place. Then we can go two to the sixth. We can call that, multiply by two again, or two to the six is 64. So this is the 64s place. Tells us how many 64s we
have. Zero or one 64s. We’ll see that in a second. Then we can go over here. This would be two to the seventh. That would be the 128s place. And we can obviously keep going on and on and on, but this
should be enough for me to represent this number. In future videos I will show you how to do that, but let’s actually represent the number. It turns out that this number in decimal can be represented as 11100111 in binary. What does this mean? This means you have one 128 plus one 64, plus one 32, plus no 16s, plus no eights, plus one four, plus one two, plus one one. So you can see that these are going to be the same thing. Notice, this is one 128. So it’s 128, plus 64, plus 32. We have zero 16s, zero eights. So we’re not going to add those. Plus four, one four. Plus one two. Plus one one. And add these together, and once again when we’re doing this, when I’m writing it this way I’m kind of using the number system that we’re most familiar with. We’re most used to
doing the operations in, but when you do it you will see that this is the exact same number as 231. This is just another representation. One isn’t better than the other. The only reason why I converted this is this is what I’m used to thinking in. It’s what I’m used to doing operations in. So, hopefully you find
that pretty interesting. To me, this kind of opened my mind to the power of even our decimal system. In future videos we’ll explore other number systems. The most used ones, base 10 is used very heavily, binary and there’s also hexadecimal where you don’t have two digits or not 10 digits,
but you have 16 digits. And we’ll explore those in future videos and how to convert between or rewrite the the different representations
and different bases.

About James Carlton

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65 thoughts on “Introduction to number systems and binary | Pre-Algebra | Khan Academy

  1. The decimal system is very old and in fact it didn't always have the number zero in it. In greek and roman system of counting the numbers begin from one.

  2. I dont know why this was such a hard concept for me to get, but this definitely is the best and easiest explanation on binary out there.  Thanks again!

  3. u still the best
    u don't just teach us the method , u explain where it came from & how 
    thnx 4 respect our minds (Y)

  4. You are a lifesaver! nobody explained it like that ever to me before! 
    I am sooo going to pass because of you. BLESS YOU!

  5. Maraming salamat dito sobra itong nakatulong. I mean thank you very much for this tutorial it is very useful to me 🙂

  6. An amazing windows 10 app (Desktop/Mobile), that is very helpful for converting number bases like binary, decimal, octal and hexadecimal numbers. It also let you perform basic mathematical operations on binary, decimal, octal and hexadecimal numbers. You can also convert numbers for any base to any other base.

  7. LOLz I was never a big fan of math but I guess there are always other ways to learn. I just want to get to the hang of coding and programing.

  8. this is like understanding why a symphony is so beautiful for the first time, just makes everything even better.

  9. tf your explaination is so poor. you calculate 231 into binary without explain it. nobody can judge with mouse's cursor.

  10. The genius of the binary base 2 number system is that there's only ONE way to create ANY number!! In other words, no other base number (i.e. 3, 4, 7, etc.) can be used to represent any number once ONLY using just 1's and 0's.

    Let's take a binary base 3 number system: 1, 3, 9, 27. You may already see that there's a problem because there's no way the number 2 can be represented using a base 3 system. Other numbers that can't be represented include 5, 7, 8, 11, 14, and more.

    Let's take a binary base 4 number system: 1, 4, 16, 64. This number system omits EVEN MORE numbers (2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, etc.)

    Let's take a binary base 5 number system: 1, 5, 10, 15. Not only does this number system omit more numbers than base 3 or base 2 omits, but some numbers can be represented MORE THAN ONCE! For example, I can represent 15 by 0, 0, 0, 1, or by 0, 1, 1, 0. In other words, (0 x 1) + (0 x 5) + (0 x 10) + (1 x 15) = 5 + 10 = 15 AND (0 x 1) + (1 x 5) + (1 x 10) + (0 x 15) = 15.

    To confirm your understanding of the binary base 2 number system, see if there's any number less than 256 that CAN'T be represented and if there's any number that can be represented MORE THAN ONCE using an 8-bit (8-bits = 1 byte) base 2 system (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128). Please comment if you have any questions.

  11. He just started filling in the blanks but didn't explain why he put those specific numbers in the locations. He confused me at the end.

  12. since 11 years old i've had a mental block toward binary. I just don't get it, which is not good. because, now im a computer science major.

  13. It was all making sense all the way up just before the end. Where did he get the ones and zeros from when he filled the blanks out?

  14. Oh my gosh, you work great. I have a completely terrible math teacher at my school who is no idea how to teach. We're having a final and I had no idea had to do this. You just saved me a couple problems.

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