AQA Computer Science GCSE
Data Representation – Binary Numbers
Computers are, at their heart, very complex machines which use a very simple way of storing information. It all comes down to Binary numbers – 1s and 0s.
Binary Numbers – an introduction
There are some questions to try:
Converting Binary to Decimal and Back Again
You need to be able to convert from binary to decimal.
Binary Numbers – converting from binary to decimal method - how to do it
And you need to be able to convert from decimal to binary as well. Which is a little harder.
Binary Numbers – converting from decimal to binary method – how to do it
There's a set of questions on paper as well:
Binary numbers: largest, how many and range
The exam board likes to ask questions like:
- what is the largest number that can be represented using 6 bits?
- how many binary numbers can be represented using 5 bits?
- what range of numbers can be represented using 7 bits?
These are actually really easy questions, but you need to know what to do – it's really easy to get confused.
If you want more detail, these guides make answering this sort of questions a piece of cake.
Absolutely everything that a computer does can only be stored using binary numbers. Every single thing has to be able to be reduced down to a series of 1s and 0s to get it inside a computer of any kind.
Just think of what that means:
- every instruction that a program executes has to be stored as binary numbers. So when you type Python code it gets translated into a set of 1s and 0s so that it can be executed
- a photograph, which shows thousands of different shades of colours, ends up as 1s and 0s. Every digital photo of a work of complete artistic genius ends up as 1s and 0s
- every piece of writing has to be stored as 1s and 0s. Whether it's a quick e-mail, the complete works of William Shakespeare or today's newspaper. It all becomes 1s and 0s once you get it typed and stored electronically
- music, if it's stored digitally, ends up as 1s and 0s. The most complex, richest, dynamic music you can imagine. If it's in a computer it's just 1s and 0s
The reason for all this is that computers just can't deal with anything else. A switch can only be on or off - it can be a 1 or a 0. Nothing else.
Why Binary? – some theory which reminds you why we need to use binary.
More Complex Why Binary? – this details some of the ways in which data storage has developed over time and some other ways in which data can be stored and transferred using alternatives to switches.
Number Bases – a Summary
We'll come back to the idea of number bases, but this is the first step in this knowledge.
Binary Revision Questions
Some sets of revision questions, dealing with all of the binary stuff, for when you need them:
Binary Revision Questions 1 – everything binary only
Binary Revision Questions 2 – binary and hex
And some other questions, some of which cover other area of unit 3.