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What is Hexadecimal?

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Hexadecimal is a number system based on 16 symbols typically represented as 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,A,B,C,D,E,F. These come up in relation to computers a great deal because digital devices are often designed to display binary as hexadecimal. As such, hardware designers and computer scientists tend to think in hexadecimal.

Binary & Hexadecimal

Binary is notoriously difficult to read because humans easily tire of looking at the same two characters repeated ad nauseam. Hexadecimal is far more pleasant as its 16 characters start to look more like a natural language with a little variation. As such, digital devices rarely display anything as binary but instead display hexadecimal according to the following mapping.
The fact that machines often display hexadecimal gets hardware designers and low level programmers thinking in hexadecimal. This has lead to a large number of hardware components, systems and standards based on hexadecimal numbers.

Example

Html colors are based on a red, green, blue color model with each color being in the hexadecimal range 00 to FF. This translates to 00000000 to 11111111 in binary for each of the three colors. Web designers are often familiar with hexadecimal color codes. The binary is of interest only to the machine displaying the color.
Overview: Hexadecimal
Type
Definition
A number system based on 16 symbols typically represented as 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,A,B,C,D,E.
Relevance
Hardware and low level software are often designed to display binary as hexadecimal.
It is common for hardware, systems and computing standards to be based on hexadecimal numbers as opposed to regular decimal numbers.
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