# Did you take Binary Arithmetic in elementary school? [closed]

Looking back, I happened to have a unique teacher who included boolean algebra/binary arithmetic (base2, and/or operators) in elementary school (early 1980s). I never realized until much later at Uni I then was learning minor foundations of programming.

I don't see anything like this in public US elementary curricula today. Did you have any classes like this and would this not be a good elementary maths knowledge in today's digital age?

Interesting references to this topic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Math

-
In Soviet Russia we learned arithmetic in base 13 in kindergarten while being drunk. – Job Jan 19 '12 at 23:36

## closed as not constructive by ChrisF♦May 16 '12 at 10:42

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or specific expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, see the FAQ for guidance.

There was a great series of books called "Elements of Mathematics" back in the 80s. It went beyond just binary and symbolic logic into probability, groups, rings & fields, number theory... Really advanced stuff, and it just never occurred to us that we were "too young" (although to be fair it was middle school not elementary school). I refer back to this stuff more than any math I learned at undergrad.

-

No. And I won't advocate for it. It would be great for students at advanced level of their class but realistically for most students they already have a hard time keeping up with Decimal Arithmetic.

-
Maybe, but we're talking BASIC child-level "what is 1 .AND. 0" type of questions. I'd rather my kids learn that than how to use PowerPoint in elementary school. – Xepoch Sep 16 '10 at 15:58
Totally agree. Elementary school is for everyone while Binary Arithmetic is for a smaller audience. Topics in elementary school should be more general than binary stuff – Victor Hurdugaci Sep 16 '10 at 18:11
Why is schools nowadays degrading? Because they make the advanced students wait for the slower students. Everyone studies at their own pace, and classes nowadays are designed to stump the growth of smarter students. I don't think I had a "hard time" keeping up decimal arithmetic back when I was in elementary school; and certainly I observe most of my peers didn't as well. – Lie Ryan Nov 1 '10 at 18:16

I had the concept of base(not 10) math in third or fourth grade, but very little time was spent on it.

They did not discuss the specific operators or anything, the exercise was mostly addition and subtraction as I recall and converting from one base to another.

I think it was more just to explain that the concept existed.

-

Nope. I didn't have any binary arithmetic (none that I can remember anyway) until I got to comp sci-related classes in high school. It was in Russia, but still. I'm pretty sure high school in Canada also didn't cover anything binary.

-

Aw, man. My math classes didn't touch boolean logic or stray from base 10 until I was in college. That would have been pretty sweet, though. Put me down for "No, but damn straight it'd be worth teaching today."

(FWIW, I graduated high school in '91, and spent all of my grade school years in Iowa.)

-

I wish, but with the way the public school system is with no child left behind and spending more and more money on ESL there is no way they can do this.

-

I did, but I was mostly homeschooled and my dad was my teacher :)

Also got something like this once I went to college, although to be fair the degree I was going for was programming-related.

I don't think it would be good for the public school systems today because a lot of kids are lost enough with math and it would just confuse them further. Perhaps if you were in some kind of computer class in school it might be worth teaching, but not regular Math.

-

No, I didn't learn it as a subject at elementary school (or what we call 'primary' in the UK), but I did learn how to count binary on my fingers as a 'trick' from a friend. Being able to count up to 10 on your hands? No problem. Up to 1023? Awesome. Insulting people by saying "4" to them? Priceless.

Helped a lot when we finally approached binary arithmetic in a computing class some eight or ten years later.

-

I did binary arithmetic when I did an 'A' Level in Computer Studies in 1987 (A levels are a British qualification that are normally taken by 16-18 years before going to University). Can't remember much about it, now, though. I also remember being taught about punched cards and magnetic drum storage. We did our programming on Research Machines 380z computers running CP/M. Makes me feel old!

-

I got it a little in 7th and 8th grade back in the 1960s.

-
Education has been going the wrong way for 20 years at least. When I'm in charge of the world, things will be different. – HLGEM Sep 16 '10 at 17:34
show 1 more comment

Boolean algebra was on our (Indian ICSE 2000) syllabus from at least the 9th standard (one year before 'O'-levels). I vaguely remember a particularly brave/foolhardy teacher trying to teach us boolean arithmetic, but I don't think we were ever tested on it. Pretty much the only thing I remember from it are De Morgan's laws, which are still handy to know.

These were very much part of the computers syllabus, not maths: I think we did a bit of number bases (base 8, base 16 and suchlike) at some point in maths, but I imagine that was really early on, in the 7th standard or so. I didn't study computers in JC ('A'-levels), so I don't know if this was taught there.

-

No, I didn't. But we did cover Venn Diagrams/simple sets in Junior High. Didn't see them again until I took a relational database course in college.

-
show 1 more comment

I can remember doing binary in 3rd or 4th grade (Junior school in England) back around 1970. It was part of a section dealing with non-base 10 work.

-

I did have binary arithmetic in elementary school (if elementary school is what I think it is, anyway we were 13 or 14 at the time) but it was a part of informatics course. We just did addition and subtraction and conversion from decimal to binary and back. The course was nicely thought out but the problem was that informatics were just added as a new mandatory subject and our teacher knew about binary numbers as much as we did. Our first computer was an ancient Orao but our teacher didn't actually know how to turn it on, so we did pen and paper QBASIC programming until we received IBM-compatible PCs. I was in Bosnia and Herzegovina at the time.

In the end I think that only useful thing that came out of that course was my ability to count from 0 to 1023 using my fingers.

-
Two 512s, all the way up! – Mark C Nov 1 '10 at 15:34

I was exposed to counting in multiple bases in my third grade class back in the 60s. It was part of the "new math" curriculum. They were trying to teach the idea that one number can have multiple representations, but they all mean the same thing. I loved it, but apparently everybody else in the US hated it. "New math" is now widely reviled and blamed for the moral dissolution of America's youth in the sixties. After "new math" went away, I hated the rest of my grade school and high school math classes. Things got better when I got to college.

-
show 1 more comment

I don't recall having binary arithmetics, specifically. But we did have "base conversion" and I would be surprised if we didn't have base-2 as an example (we certainly had base-16, base-60 and base-240, plus having to count with pre-decimalised British currency and this was in Sweden, so I suspect the pre-decimal British currency was chosen as a tricky base).

-

No, and neither did my children. However we taught them some simple things when they were younger, mostly party tricks like counting to 1000 on their fingers, along with easy ways to tell if numbers divide by 3 and the like. My youngest read Charles Petzold's CODE in Grade 7. He had a teacher who allowed only reading during free time - no writing, no drawing, no staring into space - and so took a very dense book that would last him a good long time. As a result he learned binary and much more. (He also freaked out his teachers, but I can't let that control our actions.)

I don't think learning other bases or number systems is particularly helpful to later programming, even if you're going to bit-twiddle - a grownup can learn base-2 concepts in less than a day. However Boolean logic is super helpful. My oldest couldn't understand why her critical thinking course in college was all surrounded with "now this part is complicated, so hang on" warnings whenever they got near logic problems. She had no problems with any of it.

-

We didn't have binary arithmetic per se, but we were briefly introduced binary and hexadecimal way of counting stuff in 6th grade. I remember everyone was clueless or didn't seem to grasp the usefulness of this. I was the only one who knew it beforehand since I had built some websites in HTML where I used hex colors, but that was it. It was a small class and I was the only one answering questions. I was the class nerd and girls hated me for my grades.

-

I remember doing arithmetic in other bases being a Computer Science topic taught in High School but not elementary school back in Ontario, Canada where I went to school. While I do remember place values being a grade 3 Math topic, using other bases wasn't taught at that level at all.

-

Yes. I had binary arithmetic in school and I'm from India. I guess it's still there in their syllabus.

-