Part of the Computing fundamentals glossary:

Trinary logic is three-level digital logic, with states represented by the numbers -1, 0, and 1. Alternatively, the three states can be represented by the numbers 0, 1, and 2. The smallest number corresponds to logical falsity, the highest number to logical truth, and the middle value to logical neutrality (neither truth nor falsity). Trinary logic is not often used. Binary logic, in which there are only two states represented by 0 and 1, is the most common in computer science and electronics.

In the trinary number system, each individual digit can have one of only three values: 0, 1, or 2. Whole numbers in this system count upwards as follows: 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 22, 100, 101, 102, ..., 220, 221, 222, 1000, 1001, 1002, ..., 2221, 2222, 10000, 10001, 10002, ... . The trinary number system is rarely used. In computer applications, the binary system is almost universal. Some computer applications use octal and hexadecimal number systems. The decimal number system is used in lay documentation and in general scientific work.

This was last updated in September 2005
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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