Preslav Mihaylov

Speaker, Software Engineer, Technical Trainer. Passionate about computer science, presenting and playing board games

Category: Computer science (page 1 of 2)

Introduction to bitwise operations

This article is part of the series What you won’t learn in the basics courses and is aimed at people who have an understanding of programming, but want to gain a more deeper insight on how things work and why do they work that way.

Last time, we talked about character sets and encoding. This time, we will return to dealing with binary numbers. However, this time we won’t examine how binary numbers work and what is their nature. We have covered that in previous articles. Today, we will see how to apply that knowledge in practice by examining how bitwise operations work.

This topic is usually neglected in a traditional computer science curriculum (At least it is in some universities I know). But I think that this knowledge can be useful for two reasons:

  1. Expanding your computer science knowledge by gaining a deeper understanding of binary numbers and of low-level computer science aspects.
  2. Gaining a valuable tool which can be useful when pursuing specialization as a low-level programmer (Embedded developer, for example).

We will start by examining what tools do we have at our disposal – the operations which modern programming languages provide us with. Then we will move on to applying that knowledge for actually manipulating numbers in a binary fashion and finally – we will see some real-world examples of how bitwise operations are used to achieve a highly efficient system.

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What you need to know about character sets and encoding

This article is part of the series What you won’t learn in the basics courses and is aimed at people who have an understanding of programming, but want to gain a more deeper insight on how things work and why do they work that way.

My last article was about different data types and some tricks with them. We talked a little about characters as well. However, working with them can be a little bit strange due to the presence of a fancy term in computing called encoding.

Today, my friend asked me to go and fix the subtitles for his movies. He had been telling me that some strange symbols appear all the time. So he tried reinstalling windows and changing all sorts of options but nothing seemed to work. He clearly had no idea what an encoding is. However, I guess that is normal since he doesn’t have a CS background. But there seems to be a lot of developers out there (me, including, in the old days) who don’t know what does encoding mean. Surely, they might have heard of UTF-8, but what is it? We have ASCII right?

Well, I am going to address the issue of encoding in this article as I think it is fundamental to anyone getting his hands dirty with programming and computing. It seems not many programming basics courses cover this topic in much detail.

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How does the binary nature of computers affect our data types

This article is part of the series What you won’t learn in the basics courses and is aimed at people who have an understanding of programming, but want to gain a more deeper insight on how things work and why do they work that way.

In the past few weeks, we have discussed the different ways computers deal with binary numbers in order to represent the numbers we are used to see – positive, negative and real. This time, we will take a step back from diving in the details of how the hardware deals with such issues and focus on how do the design decisions, taken by computer architects, affect the way we represent data in our code. Particularly, we shall explore the different “features” that data types, that we use in our code, have hidden for us.

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Floating point numbers

This article is part of the series What you won’t learn in the basics courses and is aimed at people who have an understanding of programming, but want to gain a more deeper insight on how things work and why do they work that way.

Hey, it has been a while since I last wrote an article on these series. Last time, we covered negative binary numbers and the different ways of representing them in a computer. This time, we will explain how to deal with real numbers. More specifically, we will briefly discuss fixed point numbers and then we will move on to the core of this article – floating point numbers.

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Negative binary numbers

This article is part of the series What you won’t learn in the basics courses and is aimed at people who have an understanding of programming, but want to gain a more deeper insight on how things work and why do they work that way.

Computers store data using numbers and last time, we covered how they store positive numbers in binary. But our adventure will be incomplete if we don’t present how to store negative numbers. This time, we will explore different variants of storing negative binary numbers and we shall see why do we store them that way.

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