Skip to Main Content
Idaho State University

Glossary

Filter:
# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z All
B
B
B1
B2
B3
BBS
BCC
BCD
BCI
Bd
BER
Bit
BIU
BPI
BPS
BR
BSA
BSE
Bug
Bus
BW
Bit
  • n. [from the mainstream meaning and `Binary digIT'] [techspeak] The unit of information; the amount of information obtained by asking a yes-or-no question for which the two outcomes are equally probable.
  • [techspeak] A computational quantity that can take on one of two values, such as true and false or 0 and 1.
  • A mental flag a reminder that something should be done eventually. (Meaning "I think you were the last guy to hack on EMACS, and what I am about to say is predicated on this, so please stop me if this isn't true. ") "I just need one bit from you" is a polite way of indicating that you intend only a short interruption for a question that can presumably be answered yes or no. A bit is said to be `set' if its value is true or 1, and `reset' or `clear' if its value is false or 0. One speaks of setting and clearing bits. To toggle or `invert' a bit is to change it, either from 0 to 1 or from 1 to 0. See also flag, trit, mode bit.
  • The term `bit' first appeared in print in the computer-science sense in 1949, and seems to have been coined by early computer scientist John Tukey. Tukey records that it evolved over a lunch table as a handier alternative to `bigit' or `binit'.