Why binary and not ternary computing? [closed]

  • It is much harder to build components that use more than two states/levels/whatever. For example, the transistors used in logic are either closed and don’t conduct at all, or wide open. Having them half open would require much more precision and use extra power. Nevertheless, sometimes more states are used for packing more data, but rarely (e.g. modern NAND flash memory, modulation in modems).

  • If you use more than two states you need to be compatible to binary, because the rest of the world uses it. Three is out because the conversion to binary would require expensive multiplication or division with remainder. Instead you go directly to four or a higher power of two.

These are practical reasons why it is not done, but mathematically it is perfectly possible to build a computer on ternary logic.

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