Computers store information using bits. A bit (short for "binary digit") stores either the value
What fits in a bit?
A single bit can only represent two different values. That's not very much, but that's still enough to represent any two-valued state.
Is a lightbulb on or off?
Is a button enabled or disabled?
Is the current time AM or PM?
Check your understanding
Consider this settings screen for a Khan Academy user:
Which of the settings can be stored in a single bit?
Sequences of bits
Computers use multiple bits to represent data that is more complex than a simple on/off value.
A sequence of two bits can represent four (
) distinct values:
A sequence of three bits can represent eight (
) different values:
A sequence can represent many things: a number, a character, a pixel. Plus, the same sequence can represent different types of data in different contexts. The sequence
could represent in a calculator application while also representing the letter "C" in a text file. Learn more in our lessons on Binary numbers and Storing text in binary
Check your understanding
How many different values can four bits represent?
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- How does the computer know whether a binary pattern results in the display of a letter or number?(29 votes)
- You (or the compiler you use) have to explicitly tell the computer how to interpret a bit string.
So when you write code you'd have to specify "This is a character" or "This is a binary number", high level programming language have functions to make that easier.(44 votes)
- Why did they come to learn 1s and 0s? Couldn't they learn our language?(4 votes)
- I didn't understand how 4 bits can represent 16 values.Could you please explain.Thanks(8 votes)
- If we have 4 bits and each can be one of two values, then the number of combinations one can make with 4 bits is equal to 2*2*2*2 = 2^4 = 16.(15 votes)
- How does a computer know how to display this information?(9 votes)
- The computer know to display the info because it reads digital info in bits, and then outputs and converts those bits into visible things, like letters.(4 votes)
- "At11:47, what are electromechanical transistors?"(7 votes)
- it focuses on the interaction of electrical and mechanical systems as a whole and how the two systems interact with eachother.(3 votes)
- How would a computer know if 1000011 in a text file represents the number 67 or the letter C?(6 votes)
- It nows has a system in it and it travels as a bit it is converted into it when a computer reads it in 1's and 0's and is converted back into the digital form
hope it helps🙂(8 votes)
- why is this topic so complicated and stressful given the fact that i literally just found out about it today?(8 votes)
- I dont seem to understand a sequence of bits can anyone explain(5 votes)
- When you have more than one bit (or wire), the number of possible values increases. In 1 bit there are two possible values: 1 or 0. In 2 bits, there are four possible values, or combinations: 00, 01, 10, 11. With each additional bit, the number of possible values/combinations goes up by a factor of two.(6 votes)
- what are bits(6 votes)
- should i click for the 'learn more about this lessons' ? are they include for the AP exam?(7 votes)