Why is the binary system important

Why computers are binary

The ignition switch of an automobile is discreet - it has definite (unambiguous) states - but there are usually more than two states (off, on, start ...). A calculator key is a binary unit. It is either "on" or "off". Usually it is "off". When you press the button, it is "on". When you let go of it, it jumps back to the "off" position, which is different from an on / off switch, but it's a binary unit nonetheless.

The binary has many advantages. Here are four (some overlap) important reasons for using the binary:

  1. Easy; easy to manufacture.
  2. Clear signals (therefore immune to interference).
  3. Flawless copies can be made.
  4. Anything that can be represented in a certain kind of pattern can be represented with bitmaps.

These features of the binary were recognized by Claude Shannon, a mathematician of Bell Telephone Laboratories. His 1948 article "A Mathematical Theory of Communication" is the basis of information theory and, for the most part, that of computer science.



What is easier to make:

  • An on / off switch.
  • A light dimmer.