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### 17.2. Data Hierarchy

Ultimately, all data items that computers process are reduced to combinations of `0`s and `1`s. This occurs because it’s simple and economical to build electronic devices that can assume two stable states—one state represents `0` and the other represents `1`. It’s remarkable that the impressive functions performed by computers involve only the most fundamental manipulations of `0`s and `1`s.

#### Bits

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

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