Ultimately, a computer processes all data items as combinations of zeros and ones, because it is simple and economical for engineers to build electronic devices that can assume two stable states—one representing `0` and the other representing `1`. It is remarkable that the impressive functions performed by computers involve only the most fundamental manipulations of `0`s and `1`s.

The smallest data item in a computer can assume the value `0` or the value `1`. Such a data item is called a **bit** (short for “binary digit”—a digit that can assume one of two values). Computer circuitry performs various simple bit manipulations, such as examining the value of a bit, setting the value of a bit and reversing the value of a bit (from `1` to `0` or ...

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