Why Computer Use Binary Number System

Why Computer Use Binary Number System

Binary Number System | Instruction Set Architecture

In order to understand why computer use binary number system, we need to  understand the computer system architecture and the CPU micro-architecture.

All of us know that computer understands the language of only two numbers that is Binary 0 ( zero ) and 1 ( one ) .  The binary number system  is a base 2 number system  that uses only two numbers 0 and 1 to represent any number.

You may be  wondering , why computer use binary number system instead of using human friendly decimal number system which we are all familiar  and commonly use it in our daily life.

It is a legitimate question to ask why computer understands and execute  programs only in binary machine code. It is also the most important and commonly asked questions in the technical interview.

In this article , we are going to discuss the reasons why computer use only binary number system in detail . And the answer to this question lies in the computer system architecture.

Why Computer Use Binary

Table Of Contents

  • Microprocessor ( CPU ) Architecture
  • Microprocessor ( CPU ) Architecture And Binary
  • Microprocessor Instruction Set Architecture ( ISA ) And Binary

Why Computer Use Binary Number System

The computer system use binary number system due to computer system architecture and the micro-architecture of the processor chip.

In order to understand the technical reasons why computer understands only binary ( 0 and 1 ) , we need to first study computer system architecture .

The microprocessor ( CPU )  functions as a brain of the computer system . The processor chip is designed  to implement the  micro-architecture which defines the set of binary operations supported by the CPU.

Software Engineering , What is Software , SDLC
Software Engineering , What is Software , SDLC

Further , the computer programs are also required to be converted to binary machine code that computer processor can directly interpret and execute .

Let us now discuss, each of these topic in detail to understand , why computer use binary number system at the hardware level.

Why Computer Use Binary Number System

What Is Computer System ?

Why Computer System Is Digital Device

The modern computer  has evolved over a period of last few decades . However ,  despite major advancements in the computer technology , the computer use program instructions in binary to perform any task at the hardware level.

The computer system is an electronic device that can be programmed to perform user specified operations . However , the computer system needs to be directed by using a set of instructions called program in binary code.

The computer system consists of both software and hardware components .  The software provides a set of program instructions to perform any task.

What Is Binary Number System ?

In mathematics  a binary number is used to represent any  number using only two numerical numbers that is 0 and 1 . And therefore , the binary number system is said be a base 2 number system.

The binary number  system is extensively used in the field of digital electronics due to ease of  its straight forward implementation . The computer system is also an digital electronic device.

In digital electronics , it becomes very easy to define two states ON and OFF using binary . The number 1 is used to indicate ON whereas the number 0 represents OFF state.

Binary Number System

Why Computer Program Needs To be Converted To Binary

The computer system consist of both software and hardware components .  The software is a computer program designed to solve a specific problem .

The computer programs are written by using a human friendly high level programming language such as C , C++ , Java , Python and so on.

The computer system is a digital electronic device that can interpret and execute only machine code instructions in binary .

However , writing a program code in binary is not only  difficult but also confusing because the program code in binary consist of patterns only two numbers that is 0 ( zero ) and 1 ( one ).

Computer Program Compilation

And therefore , the  computer programs are written using any high level programming language such as C , C++ , Java And Python. These programming languages  offer much easier interface similar to English language.

So , it doesn’t really matter which high level programming language you choose to write the program because eventually, all high level programs are required to be converted to binary code by using a special program called compiler .

During the program compilation process the high level programs are first concerted by the compiler into machine code in binary that can be directly executed by the computer processor ( CPU ) .

Computer System Architecture

In order to understand the reasons why computer use only binary code , we need to first understand the computer system architecture  and also the micro-architecture of the central processing unit ( CPU ).

It is the CPU that provides the processing power to the computer system and executes the program to perform any task .

Microprocessor Architecture

The central processing unit ( CPU ) is the brain of the computer system which controls all the components , CPU operations and the program execution.

The software consist of set of program instructions executed by the CPU which directs the computer system to perform the desired operations.

The Microprocessor chip ( CPU )  internally consist of  millions of  Integrated Circuits ( IC ) packed in a processor chip . This technology is referred as very large scale integration used in the processor chip.

Each integrated circuit inside the processor chip consists of millions of  tiny component called transistor . The transistor is a fundamental building block for all microprocessor chips .

Why computer understands Binary 0 and 1
Why computer understands Binary 1 and 0

Microprocessor Architecture And Binary Number System

The transistor is made up of silicon which is a semi conductor material. The transistors  inside the  CPU function as a micro-switch that can be programmed to be either switched ON or switched OFF state.

When the transistor is in ON state, it represents the binary number 1 ( one ) and when the transistor is in OFF state , it represents the binary number 0 ( zero ).

And for this reason, the microprocessor ( CPU ) within a computer system can be programmed to execute program instructions in binary. The CPU can interpret the machine code instructions in binary .

Transistor As Micro Switch , Binary 1
Transistor As Micro Switch , Binary 0

Microprocessor Instruction Set Architecture ( ISA )

Each microprocessor chip implements a  micro-architecture  called as Instruction Set Architecture ( ISA ) . The ISA defines the set of commands in binary which processor chip supports.

The processor manufacturing companies design the processor chip based on specific Instruction Set Architecture ( ISA ) . During the manufacturing process the ISA micro architecture is implemented by embedding these set of commands right into the processor chip.

The microprocessor can DECODE  the program instructions as per its corresponding operation code ( OPCODE ) and operate on the data ( OPERAND ) to perform the desired operation.

And therefore , due to this architectural constrains, the processor inside a computer can interpret and execute only binary commands.

Instruction Set Architecture
Microprocessor Instruction Set Architecture

Why Computer Use Binary Number System

CONCLUSION

The Computer use binary number system because the processor inside the computer can execute only binary commands.

The microprocessor chip implements a micro architecture in terms of Instruction Set Architecture ( ISA ) . The ISA is a set of binary commands that processor chip supports and these commands are hardwired into the processor chip.

The microprocessor is the main component in a computer system executes the program and performs operations as per the ISA . And for this reason  the Computer use binary number system.

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