23 September 2011

Clearly I’m not the first person to have thought of putting this stuff online. That’s a great thing because there is just such a huge amount of learning resources on the web that if there’s anything you’re not sure of, you can watch ten different lessons and get ten different perspectives. Usually there will be at least one that fits your learning style and helps you master the topic.

As I did in my last post on two’s complement I checked out youtube first to see what I could find. One of the best videos is also one of the simplest by Mike McCraith available here:


There’s not really much to add to this one but to use a phrase by Professor Edward Burger “If in doubt, write it out!”. This is certainly true for this conversation technique because although the individual steps are simple, there is a lot of them and one mistake in any of those will give you the wrong answer. Also, if you write it out, at least if you’re in an exam and get it wrong, the examiner will know that you had the right technique. If you do it all in your head, they have nothing to base a good mark on.

For me, I write out each multiplication. This worked in my favour because when I added up my results, they didn’t come to the number I expected. Because I’d written it out, it was easy to flip through and see where the mistake was made.

The same is true when you get to the division stage. I personally like the method Mike suggests - keep writing out the numbers so you can easily see what you’re doing. Again it’s easy to get lost, so go through one at a time. It will make sanity checking your work much easier.

Lastly, although you can convert directly from one base to another without going through base 10, I wouldn’t recommend it. Although base 10 adds a different step, it gives you a tool that can be used to calculate any base to any base. It’s also not that much slower once you’re used to it. Easy and flexible wins in my opinion :)

Really, apart from that there’s not much I can say that adds to the video :)

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