Questions tagged [bit]

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87
votes
7answers
58k views

What is the history of why bytes are eight bits?

What where the historical forces at work, the tradeoffs to make, in deciding to use groups of eight bits as the fundamental unit ? There were machines, once upon a time, using other word sizes, ...
42
votes
13answers
5k views

Is there an alternative to bits?

Is there an alternative to bits as the smallest unit of data? Something that won't be only 0 or 1, but actually hold many possible states in between? Wouldn't it be more natural to store floats like ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Endianness at bit level

I am learning the union and struct and I wrote the code below. What I do not understand is why the output is different when I change from a little endian to a big endian machine. My understanding is ...
12
votes
3answers
67k views

How are negative signed values stored?

I was watching this video on the maximum and minimum values of signed integers. Take an example of a positive signed value - 0000 0001 The first bit denotes that the number is positive and the last ...
22
votes
7answers
7k views

Advantages and disadvantages of using bit masks in database

Not so long ago I talked to my colleague and he was definitely against using bit masks because it is hard to understand all the values that are stored in the database. In my opinion it is not always a ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Is a 'least significant bit' used anywhere practically today?

I'm working on a library that supports file reading, and right now I've always assumed that all the bytes are written in most significant bit first format. Is the least significant bit first format ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

How does word size affect the amount of virtual address space available?

So, I should really know this stuff already, but I am starting to learn more about the lower levels of software development. I am currently reading Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective. by ...