Introduction to Computer Music: Volume One

2. Binary numbers, bits and bytes | page 3

Other binary terms

Below are a few more binary terms you are likely to run into in working with binary numbers.

MSB — the left-most bit of a binary number is called the most significant bit (MSB)

LSB — the right-most bit of a binary number is called the least significant bit (LSB)

word — this is a very inexact term — you will find many different definitions, but the most common definition of word is a 16-bit (two byte) binary value

nibble — a nibble is either the right or left half of a byte broken into two groups of 4 bits (1011 1010). The right half is called the lsn or least significant nibble and the left half is called the msn or most significant nibble

hexadecimal — a base-16 system of values. Each "place" has 16 values, ranging from 0-15 times a certain power of 16 (from right to left, 160, 161, etc.). To accomplish this with one position, letters are used for values over 9, so A=10, B=11, C=12, D=13, E=14, F=15). In this way, the 256-value range of a byte can be expressed in two-place numbers (000000000=$00, 11111111=$FF). Hex numbers are usually identified by dollar sign ($), a '0x' or followed by an 'H.'

Example of hexadecimal number:

powers of 16 161 160  
equivalent decimal values 16's 1's
sample hex number (remember A=10, D=13) $A D
how to solve 10 x 16 + 13 x 1 = 173

For more information, visit http://www.howstuffworks.com/bytes.htm.

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