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Bits





The smallest unit of memory is the bit, representing the position, either ``on'' or ``off'', of an electronic switch inside the computer hardware.

A bit can represent either ``0'' or ``1'' depending on the state of the switch.

The term ``bit'' is a contraction of the term ``binary digit''.

Two bits can assume 4 unique patterns/values:

Binary form Decimal form
00 0
01 1
10 2
11 3

In general, n bits can assume $ 2^n$ unique values.

The byte is nearly always defined as 8 bits and can therefore assume $ 2^8 = 256$ unique values.


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``CMPT 165: Review'' by Tamara Smyth, Computing Science, Simon Fraser University.
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Copyright © 2011-12-05 by Tamara Smyth.
Please email errata, comments, and suggestions to Tamara Smyth<tamaras@cs.sfu.ca>
School of Computing Science,   Simon Fraser University