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Octal Number System

The octal number system has a radix of 8 and therefore has eight distinct digits. All higher-order numbers are expressed as a combination of these on the same pattern as the one followed in the case of the binary and decimal number  systems. The independent digits are 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. The next 10 numbers that follow ‘7’, for example, would be 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20 and 21. In fact, if we omit all the numbers containing the digits 8 or 9, or both, from the decimal number system, we end up with an octal number system. The place values for the different digits in the octal number system are 80, 81, 82 and so on (for the integer part) and 8−1, 8−2, 8−3 and so on (for the fractional part).

Hexadecimal Number System

The hexadecimal number system is a radix-16 number system and its 16 basic digits are 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, C, D, E and F. The place values or weights of different digits in a mixed hexadecimal number are 160, 161, 162 and so on (for the integer part) and 16−1, 16−2, 16−3 and so on (for the fractional part). The decimal equivalent of A, B, C, D, E and F are 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 respectively, for obvious reasons.

The hexadecimal number system provides a condensed way of representing large binary numbers stored and processed inside the computer. One such example is in representing addresses of different memory locations. Let us assume that a machine has 64K of memory. Such a memory has 64K (= 216 = 65 536) memory locations and needs 65 536 different addresses. These addresses can be designated as 0 to 65 535 in the decimal number system and 00000000 00000000 to 11111111 11111111 in the binary number system. The decimal number system is not used in computers and the binary notation here appears too cumbersome and inconvenient to handle. In the hexadecimal number system, 65 536 different addresses can be expressed with four digits from 0000 to FFFF. Similarly, the contents of the memory when represented in hexadecimal form are very convenient to handle.

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