Remember when I said that a computer is a device that stores and

processes data by performing calculations?

Whether you're creating an artificial intelligence that can beat humans at chess

or something more simple, like running a video game,

the more computing power you have access to, the more you can accomplish.

By the end of this lesson,

you'll understand what a computer calculates, and how.

Let's look at this simple math problem.

0 +1 equals what?

It only takes a moment to come up with the answer 1, but

imagine that you needed to do 100 calculations that were this simple.

You could do it, and if you were careful, you might not make any mistakes.

Well, what if you needed to do 1,000 of these calculations?

How about 1 million? How about 1 billion?

This is exactly what a computer does.

A computer simply compares 1s and 0s, but millions or billions of times per second.

Wowza!

The communication that a computer uses is referred to as binary system,

also known as base-2 numeral system.

This means that it only talks in 1s and 0s.

You may be thinking, okay, my computer only talks in 1s and 0s.

How do I communicate with it?

Think of it like this.

We use the letters of the alphabet to form words and we give those words meaning.

We use them to create sentences, paragraphs, and whole stories.

The same thing applies to binary, except instead of A, B, C, and so on,

we only have 0 and 1 to create words that we give meaning to.

In computing terms, we group binary into 8 numbers, or bits.

Technically, a bit is a binary digit.

Historically, we used 8 bits because in the early days of computing,

hardware utilized the base-2 numeral system to move bits around.

2 to the 8th numbers offered us a large enough range

of values to do the computing we needed.

Back then, any number of bits was used, but

eventually the grouping of 8 bits became the industry standard that we use today.

You should know that a group of 8 bits is referred to as a byte.

So a byte of zeroes and ones could look like 10011011.

Each byte can store one character, and we can have 256 possible values,

thanks to the base-2 system, 2 to the 8th.

In computer talk, this byte could mean something like the letter C.