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Development Of A Java2 Based Tutorial Binary Calculator For The Instruction Of Binary Arithmetic

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.217.1 - 5.217.7



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Gerard N. Foster

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Session 2793

Development of a Java2-based Tutorial Binary Calculator for the Instruction of Binary Arithmetic Gerard N. Foster Purdue University, School of Technology, Kokomo, Indiana


This paper describes instructional software developed to teach binary arithmetic. The heart of the software is a binary calculator written in Java2. This tutorial calculator performs addition, subtraction, and the logical operations, AND, OR, XOR and XNOR. There are two modes of number entry. The problem values are either generated randomly or are entered by the student. A log of the number of attempts, the number good and the percentage good is displayed for problems worked in the random-entry mode. Right and wrong bits in the student’s answer are highlighted in green and in red, respectively. Attributes of the calculator are presented. Methods of software development are explained and a brief account of use with students is given. Because the calculator is written in Java, new objects can be created to extend the capabilities while keeping the old functionality. Also it can be integrated into other instructional software on the web. The preliminary work on this software was funded by MIDC (Multimedia Instructional Development Center) at Purdue University.


Binary numbers and binary arithmetic emerge at various points in the technology curriculum, often with increased complexity. As a student progresses through the curriculum, the binary numbers they encounter increase in size and the binary formats (signed, unsigned, fractional, integer, etc.) vary according to the application. At the lower levels, the students are not ready for examples and laboratory applications that illustrate and cement into memory the concepts of binary operations and formats required throughout their academic career. Thus, as educators, we must revisit and extend the coverage of binary numbers, often with time constraints imposed by the need to cover technical applications and circuits of the moment. The list below is a summary of number concepts that can be generally illustrated at that level. Higher concepts may be introduced but the applications are not readily introduced as laboratory exercises.

Fundamental digital courses (freshman year) Number conversion (Binary, decimal, hexadecimal, BCD) Logical operations (AND, OR, NAND, NOR, XOR, XNOR) Arithmetic operations (Add, Subtract) Signed and unsigned numbers. Number size generally 1 to 4 or 8 bits. Microprocessor/microcontroller courses (sophomore year) Fractional numbers for scaling of A/D conversions. Scaling, offsetting and conversion to BCD. BCD arithmetic for clocks. Carry, half carry, overflow, negative, and zero flags.

Foster, G. N. (2000, June), Development Of A Java2 Based Tutorial Binary Calculator For The Instruction Of Binary Arithmetic Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8292

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