Unraveling String Representations: Decoding Data Formats

In the world of programming, data comes in various shapes and sizes. Understanding different string representations, especially those denoting various numeric bases like hexadecimal (0x), binary (0b), and octal (0o), is a crucial skill. Let's delve into how you can decipher and work with diverse string representations to unveil the underlying data.

The Language of Bases

Hexadecimal (0x)

Hexadecimal is a base-16 numbering system widely used in computing. It uses 16 digits, where the regular decimal digits (0-9) are augmented by the letters A to F (representing values 10 to 15). In JavaScript, you may encounter hexadecimal representations prefixed with 0x, such as 0xFF for the decimal value 255.


let hexValue = 0xAF; // Hexadecimal representation
console.log(hexValue); // Output: 175

Binary (0b)

Binary is the simplest base-2 numbering system, using only 0s and 1s. In languages like Python, binary literals are prefixed with 0b, e.g., 0b1101 represents the decimal value 13.


binary_value = 0b1101  # Binary representation
print(binary_value)   # Output: 13

Octal (0o)

Octal is a base-8 numbering system that uses digits 0-7. In some programming languages like Python, octal literals are prefixed with 0o, e.g., 0o17 is equivalent to the decimal value 15.


octal_value = 0o17  # Octal representation
print(octal_value)  # Output: 15

Recognizing String Representations


In JavaScript, you can easily convert string representations to numbers using built-in functions like parseInt or by simply using arithmetic operations.


let hexString = "0xFF";
let decimalValue = parseInt(hexString); // Convert hex string to decimal
console.log(decimalValue); // Output: 255


Python provides built-in functions for converting string representations to integers.


binary_string = "0b1101"
decimal_value = int(binary_string, 2)  # Convert binary string to decimal
print(decimal_value)  # Output: 13

Handling Prefixes Programmatically

When working with string representations, it's essential to handle prefixes programmatically to ensure accurate conversions.


function convertHexToDecimal(hexString) {
    return parseInt(hexString.replace(/^0x/, ''), 16);

let hexValue = "0xAF";
let decimalValue = convertHexToDecimal(hexValue);
console.log(decimalValue); // Output: 175


def convert_binary_to_decimal(binary_string):
    return int(binary_string[2:], 2)

binary_value = "0b1101"
decimal_value = convert_binary_to_decimal(binary_value)
print(decimal_value)  # Output: 13


Navigating different string representations of data is a fundamental skill for programmers. Whether it's decoding hexadecimal, binary, or octal values, understanding the conventions and using the appropriate conversion methods is crucial. By embracing these skills, you empower yourself to work seamlessly with data in its various representations, unlocking new possibilities in your coding journey.

Bonus list of common prefixes

or preambles used in various programming languages to represent different data types:

  1. Binary:

    • Prefix/Representation: 0b
    • Data Type: Integer
    • Example: 0b10101 represents the binary value 21.
  2. Octal:

    • Prefix/Representation: 0o
    • Data Type: Integer
    • Example: 0o35 represents the octal value 29.
  3. Hexadecimal:

    • Prefix/Representation: 0x
    • Data Type: Integer
    • Example: 0xFF represents the hexadecimal value 255.
  4. String:

    • Prefix/Representation: None
    • Data Type: String
    • Example: "Hello, World!" represents a string.
    • Note: c strings end in null \0
  5. Floating-Point:

    • Prefix/Representation: None
    • Data Type: Float or Double
    • Example: 3.14 represents a floating-point number.
  6. Scientific Notation:

    • Prefix/Representation: None
    • Data Type: Float or Double
    • Example: 2.5e3 represents 2500 in scientific notation.
  7. Character:

    • Prefix/Representation: None
    • Data Type: Char or String (depending on the language)
    • Example: 'A' represents a character.
  8. Boolean:

    • Prefix/Representation: None
    • Data Type: Boolean
    • Example: true or false represents a boolean value.
  9. Null/Undefined:

    • Prefix/Representation: None
    • Data Type: Null or Undefined
    • Example: null or undefined represents an absence of a value.
  10. Array:

    • Prefix/Representation: None
    • Data Type: Array
    • Example: [1, 2, 3] represents an array of integers.
  11. Object/Dictionary:

    • Prefix/Representation: None
    • Data Type: Object or Dictionary
    • Example: { "key": "value" } represents a key-value pair structure.
  12. Regular Expression:

    • Prefix/Representation: None
    • Data Type: Regular Expression
    • Example: /[a-z]+/ represents a regular expression for matching lowercase letters.