Monday, October 17th, 2011 - 11:58 PM

Hexy Digits

Mostly for my own entertainment I’ve come up with an alternative set of numeric digits. Instead of using base 10 (decimal—one’s place, ten’s place, hundred’s place, etc.) I chose base 16 (hexadecimal—one’s place, sixteen’s place, two-hundred-fifty-six’s place, etc.). Hexadecimal works out well because I used four base symbols to represent 1, 2, 4, and 8. Those symbols correspond to binary digits, and between the four of them there are sixteen unique combinations—unfortunately one of the sixteen combinations is an empty space, which corresponds to zero. Since empty space isn’t a very readable digit, I borrowed the zero digit for that value.

I also came up with new digit names with a few goals in mind:

  1. Single syllable.
  2. Names cannot share the same vowel sound ("naught" and "arc" arguably violate this goal… uh, and "sail" and "wave"… oops).
  3. Digit names must be somewhat descriptive of their corresponding symbols.

My goals for the digit symbols:

  1. Unique regardless of orientation. (The digits must be distinguishable from each other even when written sideways, upside-down, backwards, etc.).
  2. Comprised of four parts, with each part representing a binary digit.
  3. Reasonably easy to write (unfortunately these symbols seem harder to write than the Arabic digits we normally use).

Here’s an image (linked to a larger version) that contains each digit with its name and corresponding decimal, octal, hexadecimal, and binary representations:

Hexy Digits 2

If you have any ideas on how I could improve this, feel free to share. Especially if you have a more descriptive name for "chute".

Some fun patterns to see and understand in the 4×4 grid:

  • The digits in the two right-hand columns all contain the "wave" symbol (exclusively–the left-hand columns do not).
  • Exclusively the digits on the second and fourth columns from the left contain the "spike" symbol.
  • The digits that are base symbols are on the top and left edges, excluding the corners.
  • On each row except the top, whatever symbols are present in the leftmost column carry across the whole row.
  • Exclusively the digits in the second and last row from the top contain the "arc" symbol.
  • Exclusively the digits in the bottom two rows contain the "tip" symbol.

I’m pretty sure this system will be taught in all US elementary schools within the next year for one simple reason: it lets the United States save face on not switching to the metric system. We knew base 10 was doomed—we were waiting for hexadecimal to get its own symbology! I’m proud to live in the only country with such vision. Burma and Liberia (the only other countries that haven’t adopted the metric system) are gravitating toward it, so they don’t get to piggyback on our excuse.

Who’s with me?!

1 Comment to “Hexy Digits”

  1. jose gomez Says:

    very nice! especially liked how the Elf is colored green!

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