beanz Magazine

Introduction to Memory Management

John Loo on Flickr

Dive into the nuts & bolts of storing pictures and files on your computer.

Ever wondered what happens behind the scenes when you hit the “run” button and your code springs to life? To develop a deeper understanding of computing, let’s take a look at an essential, if somewhat mysterious process: storing programs in memory.


Every variable needs to saved somewhere. Otherwise, your program will forget values when it moves to the next line of code!

At a base level computers work with 0s and 1s. So before we store our data, we must transform numbers, letters, and complex audio-visual objects into simple 0s and 1s.

Small integers (whole numbers) like “5” or “37” are stored as binary versions of themselves. “5” becomes “0101” and “37” is “100101”. For negative numbers, we use a clever system called “two’s complement”. First, you take the binary form of the number’s positive equivalent, then you flip each bit and add one at the end. For example, “5” is flipped from “0101” to “1010”, and then finishes as “1011”. This representation makes it easy to add or subtract integers.

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A clever AI is creating twisted, surreal art. Math or magic?

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Interesting stories about computer science, software programming, and technology for December 2018.

Links from the bottom of all the December 2018 articles, collected in one place for you to print, share, or bookmark.