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Using a Calculator in Other Bases

Date: 05/16/2000 at 12:14:54
From: Gina Ames
Subject: Base 2 division

Dear Dr. Math, 

Can a calculator be used to add non-base 10 numbers? For example, 27 
base 8 + 65 base 8.

Thank you for your help, 
Gina Ames

Date: 05/18/2000 at 11:43:07
From: Doctor TWE
Subject: Re: Base 2 division

Some calculators are designed to do arithmetic in specific bases, 
usually binary (base-2), octal (base-8) and hexadecimal (base-16), 
because these bases are commonly used when working with computers. 
Look for buttons marked [BIN], [OCT] and [HEX] - this is an indicator 
that the calculator works in these bases. Calculators vary in what 
they can do in those bases, and what button(s) you need to push to get 
them to do operations in those bases.

Generally, if a calculator can work in those bases, it can add and 
subtract in those bases, and convert values to and from decimal. Be 
careful with negative numbers and fractions - most calculators only 
deal with integer values in other bases, and represent negative values 
as "complements." Some can multiply and divide, but most of them will 
only give you the integer portion (the quotient) when dividing. For 
more information on complements, visit:

  Two's Complement   

  Negative Numbers in Binary   

One final note: You can always convert the numbers to decimal, do the 
necessary arithmetic (in decimal), then convert the answer back to the 
base desired.

I hope this helps. If you have any more questions, write back.

- Doctor TWE, The Math Forum   
Associated Topics:
High School Number Theory

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