Electricity flows at the speed of light, which is 186,000 miles per second. That's really fast. However, when you have millions of electrons that have to be hurled at the monitor screen every second to prevent horrendous flickers, and even more electrons that have to flow through the circuits of the central processing unit so the computer knows what to display on the screen, any delays begin to take a serious toll. If every calculation through the processor must be calculated in terms of 1s and 0s, the computer can only poke along as fast as it can add a string of binary digits. According to our theories, however, if the computer can process data using 3 possible digits rather than two, the numbers which it adds can be shorter, so it has to do less addition. For example:
To add 123 to 654 in base ten, you simply write the first on top of the second and start adding from the right.
123 +654 ---- 7Repeat this operation 3 times, and you will have the solution: 777.
Addition in all other bases is performed the exact same way. We will use the same problem as before, only now let's use base 2. (For help in translating between different number bases, go here.)
1111011 +1010001110 ----------- 1Repeat the operation 10 times, and you will have the solution: 1100001001.
So what does this have to do with getting computers to move faster? Well, you notice that by adding in base 2, the computer has to perform 10 addition operations to come up with an answer. How many will it have to do in base 3?
11120 +220020 ------- 0Repeat the operation 6 times to arrive at the solution: 1001210. Notice that not only are less operations required to arrive at this answer than are required in base 2, but also the final solution contains less digits, and therefore can be translated more rapidly into another base, as well as requiring less memory.
As you can see, the higher the base, the less individual digits are involved and the faster the computer can process the calculation. So using base 3 will make the computer faster than if it ran on base 2. If a logic system is developed which uses more than 3 digits, then computers will function faster still.
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