The binary system is a kind of number system that uses a simplified notation to reduce our modern counting to only the integers one and zero. A binary integer is one of these ones and zeros that make up a binary string, and is a whole number. It is used within what some call a "base-2" system, in contrast to the counting system that the modern world commonly uses, called "base-10" because it uses ten as a specific unit for the construction of larger integers. The base-2 system just uses the one and zero, so one is the "top number" for this system.

The binary system that we use today has its roots in ancient cultures and practices. One of these is the *I Ching*, a traditional eastern method for divination that uses the two sides of coins or other items for using a binary system to tell fortunes. Other books and resources show uses of binary in various historic cultures, for counting, alternative mathematics, or other fundamental studies of how humans use integers.

Although the binary system has been around for centuries, it has become a staple of a very modern field: computer science. Binary numbers form the basis for a lot of the first computer engineering that gave rise to modern computer languages. Programmers who were trying to boil down computation into simple procedures that a machine could easily perform found that the binary integer was useful in forming simple "on-off" strings that would often be called *machine language*. The binary integer has been a traditional way to translate word-based computer languages that programmers use into something that is easily readable to a machine.

Just as the binary integer is common for translating computer languages to a compiler or other software tool, binary numbers also became standard for storing data. A binary stream is a viable method for storing almost any kind of data on a computer because of the innate simplicity of the system. Programmers and engineers continue to explore the uses of binary integers for all kinds of high-tech communications and data processing. Besides ones and zeros, a binary system can be shown as a "true/false" dialectic or other item on a software interface. Engineering students and other often learn binary early on in their training, since the range of applications for this system is so broad, and binary integers are so much in use in a variety of different technologies.