How computers see the world

There are a number of very common needs for a computer, including the need to store and view data.

Computers use electrical signals that are on or off, so they have to see everything as a series of binary numbers. This data is represented as a sequence of 1s and 0s (on and off). All data that we want a computer to process needs to be converted into this binary format.

A computer can only understand the world through binary representations. All objects in the physical world such as cars, trees, people and our environment are represented as binary.

What is binary?

Binary is a number system that only uses two digits: 1 and 0. All information that is processed by a computer is in the form of a sequence of 1s and 0s. Therefore, all data that we want a computer to process needs to be converted into binary.

Before a computer can understand any information, it must first be converted into binary. Audio, video, images or written text must be converted from their original formats into binary code.

The binary system is known as a ‘base 2’ system. This is because:

  • there are only two digits to select from (1 and 0)
  • when using the binary system, data is converted using the power of two.