By Miranda Copenhaver, Nancy Hindman*, Efiotu Jagun, and Gloria Su.

*Nancy helped the group work through the problem set but was unfortunately unable to attend camp during the blog writing.

Number systems are how we represent numbers like 1, 32, and 75. We use the base ten (decimal) system for our numbers most of the time. It’s called base ten because it uses ten digits: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. But what if I told you that 1001101 and 4D both mean seventy-seven? Crazy, right? There are countless number systems, but today we will be focusing on two: hexadecimal (base sixteen) and binary (base two)!

As we’ve said before, the binary system is base two; it only uses 0 and 1. Since only 1 or 0 can be used, the placement of each digit is important. Computers use binary to store and transfer information. It is used in communication (Morse code, braille) and everything electronic like computers, lights, calculators, MP3s, MIDI, JPEG, etc.