We define the following
We often use the expressions 16-bit word (short word) or 32-bit word (long word) depending on the type of computer being used. Most fast computers today actually employ a 64-bit word at the hardware level.
If a word has n bits it can represent different numbers in the range 0 to . Negative numbers are usually represented by the so called 2's complement notation. To obtain the 2's compliment of a number first take the complement (invert each bit) and then add 1. All the negative numbers will have a 1 in the MSB position, and the numbers will now range from to . The electronic advantages of the 2's complement notation becomes evident when addition is performed. Convince yourself of this advantage.