Definition of binary in English:



  • 1Relating to, composed of, or involving two things.

    • ‘The set includes the composed sequence obtained from the preliminary binary signal.’
    • ‘To avoid the binary thinking that collapses complexity, it is necessary to assess both similarities and differences while watchful for the excesses of either prejudice.’
    • ‘By detecting how far apart the partners are and how rapidly they orbit each other, scientists can determine the mass, volume, and composition of the binary asteroids.’
    • ‘A particular concentration is on a binary structure present in many myths, focusing on the complementary elements.’
    • ‘Well from this strange extract from an encyclopedia, the dead star is a binary twin to our sun and the 10th planet is our planet X.’
    • ‘In the inorganic world, combustion can work the other way around, providing the energy to drive redox reactions and to form complex oxides from binary components.’
    • ‘The binary opposition of ‘us’ and ‘them’ that is so important in motivating people to action actually reinforces stereotypes and creates barriers.’
    • ‘What took place in 1953 right here in Cambridge, through significant collaboration with Birkbeck and King's Colleges, London, was the elucidation of its structure as a binary helix.’
    • ‘The method elicits multiple binary choices for paired items in a choice set.’
    • ‘Because the loss of territories was not a completely binary variable, we did not test for significant differences between groups.’
    • ‘A model of this type possessed the maximal complexity for a given number of states that could be possibly resolved for a binary channel based on single-channel measurements.’
    • ‘However, this work is not simple enough to just be the presentation of binary oppositions; the repetition of the work confuses the distinction between beauty and the grotesque.’
    • ‘The existence of nukes upped the ante, of course, and reduced the complexities of geopolitical competition to a binary outcome: off or on.’
    • ‘The first equation that was estimated for each ethnic group included early substance use to estimate its binary effect on school completion.’
    • ‘Mythos and logos form the binary base for Armstrong's explanation not only of the emergence of the modern world but also of the fierce response by fundamentalists to its excesses.’
    • ‘During balanced growth, cells undergoing binary fission must double the number of every kind of RNA and protein molecule every cell cycle.’
    • ‘Frank Paynter says ‘I am not a person who would argue against the value of binary analysis.’’
    • ‘We also discuss the implications of the methods in locating genes underlying complex binary traits by use of samples from natural populations.’
    • ‘More specifically, we ask the question whether the open conformation found in the binary complex is also accessible to the apo-enzyme.’
    • ‘The answer is that these 155 mm artillery shells are binary chemical munitions, which means that the chemicals remain inert when stored in the two separate chambers of the shell.’
    dual, duplex, twin, duplicate, matched, matching, paired, in pairs, complementary, coupled, twofold
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  • 2Relating to, using, or denoting a system of numerical notation that has 2 rather than 10 as a base.

    • ‘It was at Göttingen that he obtained his doctorate in 1912, working with Landau on analytic number theory and binary quadratic forms.’
    • ‘In this appendix we discuss two basic mathematical ideas; binary representations of integers and modular arithmetic.’
    • ‘Both the original design and the modern version of one-time pads are based on the binary alphabet.’
    • ‘Electronic computers are today machines based on binary arithmetic but this was not so for the ENIAC computer.’
    • ‘To simplify recording and transmission, and also later processing, the signal for each pixel is converted to a digital number in the 0to 255 range encoded in binary notation.’
    • ‘The cultural preference for base 10 and the engineering advantages of base 2 have nothing to do with any intrinsic properties of the decimal and binary numbering systems.’
    • ‘The statement Q n is then that the nth digit in the binary decimal for [Omega] is 1.’
    • ‘Here are the two methods, used to convert the binary number 11001 to base 10.’
    • ‘Dividing by two and then taking the remainder gives us a number's last digit in binary notation.’
    • ‘Unfortunately the drive industry looks likely to continue marketing the decimal rather than the binary definition.’
    • ‘His favourite topics in number theory included binary quadratic forms, quadratic residues, Gauss sums and Fermat quotients.’
    • ‘Written out in binary form, a Mersenne number consists of an unbroken string of 1s.’
    • ‘Computing individual hexadecimal digits using that formula relies on a venerable technique known as the binary algorithm for exponentiation.’
    • ‘For example, written out in binary form, a Mersenne number consists of an unbroken string of 1s - 6,972,593 of them in the case of the record holder.’
    • ‘A more sophisticated student may surmise that, as the parents are replaced by their parents, the binary encoding and continued fractions come into the play.’
    • ‘Twenty years earlier Gordan had proved the finite basis theorem for binary forms using a highly computational approach.’
    • ‘The letter A, for example, is represented in binary notation as 01000001.’
    • ‘When performing binary addition, just like for addition in base ten, we need to reserve two spaces for our result.’
    • ‘Because it's all to do with binary notation, since two raise to the power of ten gives 1024 not 1000.’
    • ‘I'll try to explain why this is so: like any number we can, theoretically at least, write Omega in binary notation, as a string of 0s and 1s.’


  • 1mass noun The binary system of notation.

    ‘the device is counting in binary’
    • ‘At this point he could have explained the elegant square-and-multiply method, based on writing e in binary.’
    • ‘I saw the behavior of this termite for over a month before I finally realized what it was doing - counting in binary.’
    • ‘About the only thing this calculator lacks is the ability to switch from decimal to hex to octal to binary.’
    • ‘The last byte is 10100000 binary or 160 decimal.’
    • ‘In addition to binary and decimal, computers can also speak in octal and hex.’
    • ‘How many zeros if you convert the result of the previous factorial into binary?’
    • ‘There are actually three definitions of a Megabyte, one decimal, one binary, and one that refers specifically to 1.44MB floppoes.’
    • ‘The symbols were translated into binary by a program called an assembler, which also calculated addresses.’
    • ‘He tapped on the desks, he fiddled with his pencil, and he counted in binary on his fingers.’
    • ‘10 is one arithmetic base, and as others have mentioned before, binary, hexadecimal, octals can also be arithmetic bases.’
    • ‘What are the rules for converting fractions to binary and octal and vice versa?’
    • ‘I was surprised at how like Roman numerals they were, also glad they were using base ten decimal and not some variant like base-eight, hex or binary.’
    • ‘So the decimal number 4, which in binary is 100, has the first bit set to zero, the second bit set to zero and the third bit set to one.’
    • ‘Working on networks, I find there's always a need to convert between decimal, hexadecimal, octal and binary.’
    • ‘Express the number of objects in the heaps in binary and see to it that after your move the total number of non zero digits in any place value is even.’
    • ‘If we had written the number as a decimal or even in binary then it looks a pretty nondescript number.’
    • ‘We were taught to convert the usual base 10 into base 6 into base 4, into binary, into octal etc.’
    • ‘Turing's approach was to image a machine that would automatically perform mathematical functions in binary on a paper tape of infinite length divided into squares.’
    • ‘In this way every possible text can be assigned a single, unique real number between and 1, written in binary.’
    • ‘The 0s and 1s are then formed together to produce binary, which is interpreted by the computer as a byte of data.’
  • 2Something having two parts.

    • ‘The coupe becomes a metaphor for a utopian world that is liberated from patriarchy, one that is not characterised by false binaries.’
    • ‘His work is fundamentally concerned with the dialectical relation between the opposing principles, or the binaries, trying to achieve certain completeness through that.’
    • ‘Haraway's juxtaposition of the words ‘fiction’ and ‘reality’ illustrates the arbitrary nature of these and other binaries in Western society.’
    • ‘This is to deconstruct the binary of time/space, where they collapse to form a moving present, it is ‘space that it is lived and is transformed by imagination’.’
    • ‘Robots allow us to escape to a world order of binaries, where ticking the right boxes will ensure the right results ’, says Brown’.’
    • ‘From this initial and highly problematic binary, Schultz deduces a series of categorical oppositions.’
    • ‘It's funny, but behind the satire lies a serious and moving point about how cleaners are valued in society, as well as pointing out that according to the law of binaries, if you're not a cleaner, you must be a dirtier!’
    • ‘There is an interesting binary on display in the two thinkers, then.’
    • ‘We are being asked to choose between the cardboard binaries of India Shining and India Whining, the feel-good factor and the all-what-jazz rebuttal.’
    • ‘Is ‘life,’ for instance, one term in a binary, and if so, what term does it oppose?’
    • ‘Abe Burmeister says ‘the act of creating a binary is also an act of exclusion.’’
    • ‘Martje lives in a world of binaries: she is a confident, strong-willed owner of a business, yet she is fragile, emotionally unstable, and distraught by a previous trauma that seems to haunt her.’
    • ‘Understanding her dance has rested upon a binary that relegates ballet to a position of abjection, impurity and ugliness.’
    • ‘The secular and the sacred have seldom existed as binaries in Indian thought, literature and practice; all essentialist constructions of the sacred and the secular are ahistorical.’
    • ‘At the Center, the binary of human and machine begins to erode with the creation a self-conscious computer.’
    • ‘It creates a framework of understanding that merges reality with myth, isolating and condensing complex, everyday life into simple binaries of good and evil, heroes and villains.’
    • ‘Painter and publican Chris Roddy offers this transcendent perspective, due presumably to the amount of time he has spent on either side of the binary.’
    • ‘Her thoughtful examination unearths binaries of mind/body and immaterial/material in even the most highly self-reflexive critical writing.’
    • ‘As Simon's analysis of Grime has shown, such a simple binary can hardly be adequate.’
    • ‘Whether exalting technology over people, or people over technology, we are not moving beyond the binaries that are currently limiting us.’
    1. 2.1 A binary star.
      • ‘And what is going on, you must believe me, is a war on the dogstar Sirius, which is a twin, a binary as you must understand.’
      • ‘This observation revealed a familiar light signature, clinching the case for a fading high-mass X-ray binary with a neutron star.’
      • ‘The challenge is that there is no way to measure a star's mass unless it is in a binary system, and brown dwarf binaries are particularly hard to resolve, because they tend to be very close to one another, and not especially bright.’
      • ‘The high fraction of black hole binaries found in globular star clusters suggests that the black holes captured a single star or pulled it away from its original companion.’
      • ‘Seventy percent of the stars in the galaxy are binaries, so this has huge implications for the number of solar systems that could exist.’
      • ‘But a neutron star in a close binary would be expected to radiate X-rays, and none are seen.’
      • ‘Galactic binaries, such as the myriad number of white dwarf stars orbiting one another throughout our galaxy, will be broadcasting an unremitting cacophony of waves discernible from space.’
      • ‘But astronomers think that as many as two-thirds of all new stars are born as binaries or multiples.’
      • ‘The excess angular momentum can be accommodated by fragmenting the cloud, a process that leads to a binary or multiple-star system.’
      • ‘So many, perhaps most, of these so-called planetary systems may in fact be stellar or brown dwarf binaries.’
      • ‘They deliberately bypassed many non-yellow suns (cepheid variables, close binaries and multiples, giants and dwarfs) until they reached the very next yellow sun.’
      • ‘Both Toutatis and Castalia appear to be contact binaries: twin asteroids in contact with each other.’
      • ‘More recent calculations by Simon Portegeis Zwart and Stephen McMillan tentatively suggest that there may be more black hole binaries in the Milky Way and other galaxies than earlier suspected, perhaps a thousand times more.’
      • ‘Yes, it's a binary, too, but of the spectroscopic type, which means that you won't be able to distinguish its two component stars even with the help of a telescope.’
      • ‘Widely separated binaries, such as visual binary stars, may have formed by tidal capture.’
      • ‘If the pulsar were indeed a binary, its frequency should at some point start to increase.’
      • ‘Today some 10 neutron-star-neutron-star binaries have been discovered, and radio astronomy has accumulated a spectacular database of more than 1500 pulsars.’
      • ‘It was not until 1802 that Herschel agreed that binaries existed and could be distinguished telescopically.’
      • ‘Edinburgh's a binary (two sun) system, but other than that novelty, it looks fairly uninteresting at first glance.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘duality, a pair’): from late Latin binarius, from bini ‘two together’.