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Key Terms

  • Bit

Short for binary digit, a bit is a fundamental unit of information in Computer Science that represents a state with one of two values, typically 0 and 1.

Any data stored in a computer is, at the most basic level, represented in bits.

  • Byte

A group of eight bits. For example, 01101000 is a byte.
A single byte can represent up to 256 data values (28).
Since a binary number is a number expressed with only two symbols, like 0 and 1, a byte can effectively represent all the numbers between 0 and 255, inclusive, in binary format.

The following bytes represents the numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 in binary format.

1: 00000001
2: 00000010
3: 00000011
4: 00000100

Every place from right to left (google for endianness if you are interesting why it’s so) represent 2n starting from 0.

  • Fixed-Width Integer

An integer represented by a fixed amount of bits. For example, a 32-bit integer is an integer represented by 32 bits (4 bytes), and a 64-bit integer is an integer represented by 64 bits (8 bytes).
The following is the 32-bit representation of the number 1, with clearly separated bytes.
00000000 00000000 00000000 00000001

The following is the 64-bit representation of the number 10, with clearly separated bytes.
00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00001010

Regardless of how large an integer is, its fixed-width-integer representation is, by definition, made up of a constant number of bits.
It follows that, regardless of how large an integer is, an operation performed on its fixed-width-integer representation consists of a constant number of bits manipulations,
since the integer is made up of a fixed number of bits. So integer equal 1 will take same amount of memory as 2147483647.


Broadly speaking, memory is the foundational layer of the computing, where all data is stored.

It’s important to note the following points:

  • Data stored in memory is stored in bytes and, by extension, bits.
  • Bytes in memory can “point” to other bytes in memory, to store references to other data.
  • The amount of memory that machine has is bounded, making it valuable to limit how much memory an algorithm takes up.
  • Accessing a byte or a fixed number of bytes (like 4 bytes or 8 bytes in the case of 32-bit and 64-bit integers) is an elementary operation, which can be loosely treated as a single unit of operational work.
  • Memory slot, can fit 8-bits which is 1 byte. For example 32-bit integer would take 4 memory slots.
  • Memory slot can store address to another memory slot, that’s called a pointer.
  • When you are storing integer, its typically fix-width integer, means It’s either 8/16/32/64 bit. Point is we know how many bytes it will take up.
  • If it takes more than one memory slot it’s going to have to be stored however many memory slots are needed to store it. Back to back and free.
  • Storing list work similar, if you’re going to want to store list of five 32-bit integers, for instance, that’s list it’s going to have 20 memory slots.