Most Significant Bit

What Does Most Significant Bit Mean?

In computing, the most significant bit (MSB) is the bit which has the largest value in a multi-bit binary number. The most significant bit is the one which is farthest to the left. As binary numbers are largely used in computing and other related areas, the most significant bit holds importance, especially when it comes to transmission of a binary number.


Techopedia Explains Most Significant Bit

Digital data is computed in a binary format and similar to numerical notation, the leftmost digit is considered the highest digit, whereas the rightmost is considered as lowest digit. Due to the positional notation, the most significant bit is also known as the leftmost bit. In a multi-bit binary number, the significance of a bit increases as it approaches the most significant bit. Since it is binary, the most significant bit can be either 1 or 0.

When a transmission of binary data is done with most significant bit first technique, the most significant bit is the one which is transmitted first, followed by other bits of decreasing significance. When the transmission is done with the least significant bit first, the most significant bit is the one which is transmitted last.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…