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Using Variables: A Byte

 

Introduction

A byte is a group or eight consecutive bits. The bits are counted from right to left starting at 0:

The most right bit is bit 0; it is called the least significant bit. It is also referred to as the Low Order bit, the LO bit, or LOBIT.

The most left bit is bit 7; it is called the most significant bit. It is also referred to as the High Order bit, the HI bit, or HIBIT. The other bits are referred to following their positions:

Using the binary system, you can represent the byte using a combination of 0s and 1s. When all bits have a value of 0, the byte is represented as 00000000. On the other hand, when all bits have a value of 1, the byte is represented as 11111111. When the number grows very large, it becomes difficult to read. Therefore, you can represent bits in groups of four. Instead of writing 00000000, you can write 0000 0000. This makes the number easier to read.

If you have the patience to create combinations of bits using the cups as we did for the group of 4, you would find out that there are 256 possible combinations. Another way to find it out is by using the base 2 technique:

27 + 26 + 25 + 24 + 23 + 22 + 21 + 20
= 128 + 64 + 32 + 16 + 8 + 4 + 2 + 1
= 255

Therefore, the maximum decimal value you can store in a byte is 255.

Remember that the byte with all bits having a value of 0 has its value set to 0. Since this byte also holds a valid value, the number of combinations = 255 + 1 = 256.

When a byte is completely represented with 0s, it provides the minimum value it can hold; this is 0000 0000, which is also 0. When all bits have a value of 1, which is 1111 1111, a byte holds its maximum value that we calculated as 255 in the decimal system. As done with the group of 4 bits, we get the following table:

Decimal Hexadecimal Binary
Minimum 0 0x0 0000
Maximum 255 0xff 1111 1111

The minimum storage area offered by the (Intel) computer is the byte. As you know already, a byte is a group of 8 consecutive bits. The amount of memory space offered by a byte can be used to store just a single symbol, such as those you see on your keyboard. These symbols, also called characters, have been organized by the American Standard Code for Information Exchange (ASCII) in a set list. But, ASCII uses only 128 decimal numbers (based on a 7-bit format) to represent symbols counted from 0 to 127. To compensate for the remaining 1 bit, IBM used it to organize special characters, foreign language characters, mathematical symbols, small graphics, etc. Each one of these characters has a decimal, a hexadecimal, and a binary equivalents.

Each one of the characters you see on your keyboard is represented as a numeric value, but whether it appears as a number, a letter, or a symbol, each one of these is considered a character. To display any character on your screen, you can pass it to Write() or WriteLine() and include the character between single-quotes, as follows:

using System;

class Exercise
{
	static void Main()
	{
		Console.WriteLine('n');
	}
}

Characters

In the English alphabet, a character is one of the following symbols: 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, 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, and Z. Besides these readable characters, the following symbols are called digits and they are used to represent numbers: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. In addition, some symbols on the (US QWERTY) keyboard are also called characters or symbols. They are ` ~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) - _ = + [ { ] } \ | ; : ' < ? . / , > "

Besides the English language, other languages use other or additional characters that represent verbal or written expressions.

C# recognizes that everything that can be displayed as a symbol is called a character. To declare a variable whose value would be a character, use the char keyword. Here is an example:

using System;

class ObjectName
{
	static void Main()
	{
		char Gender = 'M';

		Console.Write("Student Gender: ");
		Console.WriteLine(Gender);
	}
}

This would produce:

Student Gender: M

Escape Sequences

An escape sequence is a special character that displays non-visibly. For example, you can use this type of character to indicate the end of line, that is, to ask the program to continue on the next line. An escape sequence is represented by a backslash character, \, followed by another character or symbol. For example, the escape sequence that moves to the next line is \n.

An escape can be included in single-quotes as in '\n'. It can also be provided in double-quotes as "\n".

The C# language recognizes other escape sequences.

Escape Sequence Name Description
\a Bell (alert) Makes a sound from the computer
\b Backspace Takes the cursor back
\t Horizontal Tab Takes the cursor to the next tab stop
\n New line Takes the cursor to the beginning of the next line
\v Vertical Tab Performs a vertical tab
\f Form feed
\r Carriage return Causes a carriage return
\" Double Quote Displays a quotation mark (")
\' Apostrophe Displays an apostrophe (')
\? Question mark Displays a question mark
\\ Backslash Displays a backslash (\)
\0 Null Displays a null character
 

To use an escape sequence, you can also first declare a char variable and initialize it with the desired escape sequence in single-quotes.

The Byte Data Type

A byte is an unsigned number whose value can range from 0 to 255 and therefore can be stored in one byte. You can use it when you know a variable would hold a relatively small value such as people's age, the number of children of one mother, etc. To declare a variable that would hold a small natural number, use the byte keyword. Here is an example:

byte Age;

You can initialize a byte variable when declaring it or afterwards. Here is an example that uses the byte data type:

using System;

class ObjectName
{
	static void Main()
	{
		Byte Age = 14;
		Console.Write("Student Age: ");
		Console.WriteLine(Age);

		Age = 12;
		Console.Write("Student Age: ");
		Console.WriteLine(Age);
	}
}

Make sure you do not use a value that is higher than 255 for a byte variable, you would receive an error. When in doubt, or when you think that there is a possibility a variable would hold a bigger value, don't use the byte data type as it doesn't like exceeding the 255 value limit.

Practical LearningPractical Learning: Using Bytes

  1. Change the Program.cs file as follows:
     
    using System;
    
    class Program
    {
        static void Main()
        {
            byte shirts;
            byte pants;
    
            shirts = 4;
            pants = 1;
    
            Console.WriteLine("-/- Georgetown Cleaning Services -/-");
            Console.WriteLine("========================");
            Console.WriteLine("Item Type  Qty");
            Console.WriteLine("------------------------");
            Console.Write("Shirts      ");
            Console.WriteLine(shirts);
            Console.Write("Pants       ");
            Console.WriteLine(pants);
            Console.WriteLine("========================");
            Console.WriteLine();
        }
    }
  2. Execute the program. This would produce:
     
    -/- Georgetown Cleaning Services -/-
    ========================
    Item Type  Qty
    ------------------------
    Shirts      4
    Pants       1
    ========================
  3. Close the DOS window

Signed Byte

A byte number is referred to as signed if it can hold a negative of a positive value that ranges from -128 to 127, which can therefore fit in a byte. To declare a variable for that kind of value, use the sbyte keyword. Here is an example:

using System;

class NumericRepresentation
{
	static void Main()
	{
		sbyte RoomTemperature = -88;

		Console.Write("When we entered, the room temperature was ");
		Console.WriteLine(RoomTemperature);
		Console.WriteLine();
	}
}

This would produce:

When we entered, the room temperature was -88
 

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