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You have been given an assignment to convert base 10 numbers to base 2 without using any premade base conversion functions. You can't use any imported libraries either.


Convert an input string from base 10 (decimal) to base 2 (binary). You may not use any premade base conversion code/functions/methods, or imported libraries. Since this is , the shortest answer in bytes will win.

Input will be anything from -32768 to 32767 (include sign byte handling in your code)

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Q: what does "sign byte handling" mean - shall I output "-xxxx" for a negative number? Then some of us are wrong, incl. me, as I output "11...11" for -1 (aka as unsigned) – blabla999 Feb 16 '14 at 2:19
Sign byte handling - the MSB of signed variables controls if they are negative – TheDoctor Feb 16 '14 at 3:12
sure, but do I have to >print< them as sign '-' followed by magnitude? – blabla999 Feb 16 '14 at 3:14
@blabla999 - No you don't – TheDoctor Feb 16 '14 at 3:34
the MSB of signed variables controls if they are negative - that sounds like sign bit, however as the range -32768..32767 suggests, you want 2's complement. So which do you want?.. – mniip Feb 16 '14 at 12:03

16 Answers 16

up vote 2 down vote accepted

GolfScript - 17 bytes


Not too much more verbose than the built-in ~2base.

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I don't know golfscript but a few sample runs lead me to conclude that you should remove the ~ – ace Feb 16 '14 at 22:10
@ace Because the initial input is a string "37", for example, the operation "37" & 1 (in infix) is a set-wise operation. The ~ at the front converts the input to an integer. – primo Feb 17 '14 at 2:38
I did my test here… does this mean this interpreter is incorrect? (Sorry I really know nothing about golfscript) – ace Feb 17 '14 at 8:19
The interpreter is correct; because you've pushed the integer value 10 onto the stack, it is not necessary to evaluate it. However, when read from stdin, the input will be a string (test here). The problem description also explicitly states that the input is a string. – primo Feb 17 '14 at 8:27

JavaScript, 46

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Lol, I didn't even know that a 4-character operator (>>>=) existed! +1 (Also, if you run it in the console, you can save the last 9 characters.) – Doorknob Feb 16 '14 at 3:53
It's not 4-characters, it's two operators: the >>> is the 0-filling bitwise right shift, followed by an assignment. Try: x=8; x>>>=1; x; and x=8; x>>>1; x; -- in the first case, the value of x has changed; in the second, it has not. – Graham Charles Feb 16 '14 at 9:03
@GrahamCharles >>>= is a single operator. – primo Feb 16 '14 at 13:43
Well, look at that! Thanks, @primo... you learn something every day! – Graham Charles Feb 17 '14 at 23:52
@ComFreek That would reverse the order of the digits – copy Feb 19 '14 at 18:39

Perl, 44

This is my first Perl program ever, so please forgive me if this can be easily golfed down further. Edit: Thank you @primo for taking 7 chars away from my answer.


$x=<>;do{push@s,$x&1}while($x>>=1);print reverse@s

The logic is essentially the same as my previous C solution.

Also, uses 64 bits.

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You can save the reverse by constructing the array backwards: @s=($x&1,@s). – primo Feb 16 '14 at 2:52
Now that the contest is over, the best I found was 34: $\=$_%2 .$\while$_=$_>>1||<>;print. Or, if command line options count one byte each, 27: 1while$\=$_%2 .$\,$_>>=1}{ using -p. – primo Feb 20 '14 at 14:22

Javascript 59

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C, 81

char b[17];i=15;main(x){scanf("%d",&x);while(i+1)b[i--]=(x&1)+48,x>>=1;puts(b);}

The output has strictly 16 bits (including padding zeros)

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Mandatory APL answer - 21 22



⎕: 0
⎕: 13
⎕: 9999
⎕: -3
⎕: 32767
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You can reduce with almost 50% by using ⎕IO←0, and returning an array of bits instead of a string: 2|⌊⎕÷2*⊖⍳16. – Adám Jun 18 at 23:09

Javascript - 56 48 and 36 28 characters

  • Does not works with negative numbers.

Thanks to @Blender for shaving 8 characters.

This form takes input and shows output, 48 characters:


If just an instruction that puts in a variable a the binary form of a variable x is needed (and you don't bother in destroying the x value as a side-effect), here it is with 28 characters:

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You can replace Math.floor with ~~, as the range for the numbers is small. – Blender Feb 16 '14 at 11:53
@Blender Thanks, I knew that there existed some way, just could not find it. – Victor Stafusa Feb 16 '14 at 12:01
@Victor I don't know javascript so I might be wrong but at the end when you say a=x%2+a could this be shortened to a+=x%2 ? It works in all languages I know. – Albert Renshaw Feb 16 '14 at 23:10
@AlbertRenshaw No, This would be the same as a=a+x%2, but that + is for string concatenation. I.e, your suggestion results in the digits in the backwards order. – Victor Stafusa Feb 17 '14 at 1:55
@Victor Ah! Thankyou! – Albert Renshaw Feb 17 '14 at 3:02

Python - 61 60 characters

x=input();print"".join("01"[x>>i&1]for i in range(15,-1,-1))
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You can get rid of the space between print and "". – Blender Feb 16 '14 at 11:54
@Blender I was just about to suggest the same thing :) – Albert Renshaw Feb 16 '14 at 23:13
@Blender Ha true, didn't even notice. Done! – C0deH4cker Feb 17 '14 at 3:54

C, 55 chars

Prints an extra leading zero (for the sake of 2 bytes).
Recursion within printf reverses the print order, so the algorithm extracts bits right-to-left but prints left-to-right.

EDIT: Saved a char by using putchar instead of printf.

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Smalltalk (Smalltalk/X), 63/78

the first version creates an intermediate string (78):

t:=Number readFrom:Stdin.

actually, there is no need to create the string; just output the chars (63):

t:=Number readFrom:Stdin.
15to:1by:-1 do:[:i|($0+(t>>i&1))print]

mhmh - is there a shorter way to read to a number?

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Python 3.x: 65 characters

b=lambda n:n<2 and'01'[n]or b(n//2)+b(n%2);print(b(int(input())))
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Brainf*ck, 98 77

Obviously this isn't for the purpose of winning but what would a competition be if it didnt have a brainfk solution


Since brainfk can only handle 8bit integers and no negatives I guess it doesn't fully abide by the rules but hey I was never in it to win it.

This actually does work for 16-bit input if your interpreter supports

I even got it to output in ascii values

Here is the annotated code:

++[>++++<-]                       preload 8 onto cell 1
>>,<                                input into cell 2
[-                                  iterate over cell 1
    >>++<                               put 2 in cell 3
    [->-[>+>>]>[+[-<+>]>+>>]<<<<<]      division algorithm: converts {n d} into {0 d_minus_n%d n%d n/d}
    >[-]++++++[->++++++++<]>           clears cell 4 and puts 48(ascii of 0) into cell 5
    .[-]                                output n%2 and clear it (the bit)
    >[-<<<+>>>]                         bring n/2 into cell 2 (to be used for division in next iteration)
<<<<]                               end iterate

Shorter algorithm (77):


This one can only handle 8bit integers.

The algorithm works by using a binary counter which is actually very short (one increment is >[->]++[-<+]-<- which then lays out the bits. The issue is that it is difficult to print out all of the bits

That last algorithm can be adapted to fit any number of bits at the expense of bytes. To be able to deal with N bit integers, it requires 53+3*N bytes to encode.


(1 bit) +>,>-<[>>[->]++[-<+]-<-]++++++++[->++++++<]>+[->+<]>[.>]
(2 bit) +>,>-<[>>[->]++[-<+]-<-]++++++++[->++++++<]>+[->+>+<<]>[.>]
(3 bit) +>,>-<[>>[->]++[-<+]-<-]++++++++[->++++++<]>+[->+>+>+<<<]>[.>]
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Bash, 44

f=b+=n/2**e%2*10**e,2**e++/n?f=b:f;echo $[f]

Pass an input value to the script through the environment variable n. The decimal representation of the binary result cannot exceed LONG_MAX.

This should also be compatible with ksh93 and zsh if b and e are initialized to 0 and proper arithmetic expansion is used.

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I don't believe this is valid since it assumes that n is already defined, making it a snippet. That could be fixed by taking input as a command-line argument and setting n to that in your script. – quartata Dec 22 '15 at 20:14
@quartata Variables in a math context in shell are implicitly zero. For the purpose of golf it makes more sense to do n=127 sh -c '...' than sh -c 'n=$1 ...' _ 127. There's no reason to prefer one over the other in this case as they're both perfectly typical way to pass values. – ormaaj Dec 22 '15 at 22:14

C# - 104

string p(int d){var r="";long i=1;while(r.Length<=64){var g=d&i;r=(g!=0)? "1"+r:"0"+r;i=i<<1;}return r;}

This method will convert decimal to binary up to 64 bits.

When executed the above method in Linqpad - rr = p(-32768); rr.Dump();

Output: 01111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111000000000000000

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The spec calls for "an input string". It looks like this method accepts an int. – Poke Jun 16 at 20:19

Turing Machine Code, 272 bytes

As usual, I'm using the rule table syntax defined here. You can test it on that site or, alternatively, using this java implementation.

A lot of the code is copied from my decimal-to-hex converter here.

0 * * l B
B * * l C
C * 0 r D
D * * r E
E * * r A
A _ * l 1
A * * r *
1 0 9 l 1
1 1 0 l 2
1 2 1 l 2
1 3 2 l 2
1 4 3 l 2
1 5 4 l 2
1 6 5 l 2
1 7 6 l 2
1 8 7 l 2
1 9 8 l 2
1 _ * r Y
Y * * * X
X * _ r X
X _ _ * halt
2 * * l 2
2 _ _ l 3
3 * 1 r 4
3 1 0 l 3
4 * * r 4
4 _ _ r A

Counts down from the input in base 10 while counting up from 0 in base 2. On decrementing zero, it erases the input block and terminates.

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Apps Script + Google Sheets, 147 144 121 bytes


function j(decNumb){var str='';do{str=String(decNumb%2)+str;decNumb=decNumb/2|0;}while(decNumb>=1);return parseInt(str);}



Modified version of this script by ZygD.

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Can you remove any spaces? – NoOneIsHere Jun 16 at 20:06

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