The numbers we are accustomed to using in everyday life are called *decimal numbers*. The word *decimal* refers to the number 10. Every digit can take on one of ten values: 0 to 9. Arithmetic performed on decimal numbers is also called *base 10* mathematics, because of this orientation around the number 10. (Why is the number 10 the foundation of our normal mathematical system? Hold both hands up and count!)

Computer systems, however, don't have fingers or toes; they deal only with binary numbers, which have just two values. Each bit can represent only a 0 or a 1. A single 0 or 1 value is sufficient for encoding a single fact, such as whether something is true or false, or whether the answer is yes or no. ...

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