Talk:Finger binary

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Is it just me, or is it painful to do this correctly? :) Superm401 - Talk

I agree. I independently came up with this system when I was trying to teach my daughter about binary numbers (didn't know it was an actual thing until I started searching online). The system I use reserves the thumb for holding down the fingers and represents only 4 bits per hand (which I think is kind of neat, because two hands is a byte). So index finger represents the lowest order bit and pinky the highest order. You can count to 15 on one hand and 255 on both hands. This is much easier. I find that my daughter and I can count pretty rapidly through all the numbers without any weird hand contortions.Jefu (talk) 01:09, 29 January 2013 (UTC)

I can do it just fine, including the pinky and middle finger thing. Am I a robot now? -- 15:55, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

These days, there's just no way to tell online. Superm401 - Talk 02:21, 2 January 2007 (UTC)

I'm going to change the order on the second hand. It's makes more sense if both hands are either palms up or down, not one up and one down. If anyone has objections, feel free to change it back. It's easier on the hands anyway. Briham 04:00, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

That seems to be what's illustrated at the link, so that's okay. If anyone knows a source that recommends the other way, we can mention both methods. Superm401 - Talk 03:18, 25 January 2007 (UTC)
At the very least you should mention both directions. Disregarding the sources quoted try counting normally from 1-10 on your fingers as you would without thinking about it. I think you will find that the left hand opens up with the thumb, not the pinky. Source: somebody who has been bored enough to actually count 0-1023 this way. (Right hand gets crampy!) (talk) 13:30, 5 November 2012 (UTC)

I've always had a fascination with finger binary. I would like to see a standardization of finger binary. Firstly, I normally call it Binary Sign Language. Atucovic 21:30, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

I've added the following: 'Fractions', 'X-Y Coordinates' and 'Buffering'. I've edited 'Visualizing Finger Binary' and 'Two Hands' to reflect a standard way of reading binary digits. Atucovic 04:09, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

Hm. Why does an article that is composed entirely of self-evident information get these disclaimers about original research and citations? When you are skeptical about whether 101 is really 5 in binary, the problem probably lies with you. (talk) 19:05, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

There are 10 kinds of people in the world. Those who can do binary and those who can't. (talk) 21:54, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

The images of hands need to revised so that numbers over 31 actually show both hands. I know, I know, it's shorthand. Atucovic (talk) 22:34, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

It appears that the pictures used in the article are ones that happened to be already on the site. I agree that two-handed finger binary illustrations should include pictures of both hands, but I don't have a digital camera. Somebody else will have to supply them.--Father Goose (talk) 00:15, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
If the pictures are not available then a note should point that out. (talk) 18:19, 24 January 2009 (UTC)
Actually, the right-hand images are already present. (talk) 19:13, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

There was an easy way to read binary fractions without doing the fractional arithmetic that will need to be restored. Atucovic (talk) 22:34, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

There's no more arithmetic in the explanation now than there was before: your example was "add up the fingers (21) and slap the denominator on it (32)", but that was an incomplete explanation.
The explanation is still "add up the fingers", but it now mentions that you have to use a denominator of 32 for one hand or 1024 for two hands: i.e., "divide by 32 or 1024". It also now mentions simplification, since you rarely want to use "768/1024" when you can say "3/4".--Father Goose (talk) 00:15, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
I stand corrected. Arithmetic is done in both techniques. Whereas in the previous technique the numerator is added and the denominator is selected as the right-most bit. The above technique requires addition and then base 10 division. Please leave the succinct technique if there is going to be further explanation added. (talk) 18:19, 24 January 2009 (UTC)
Fair enough. I've noted other fraction-storing methods as well.--Father Goose (talk) 07:28, 26 January 2009 (UTC)

I certainly would like to formalize the geometry of coordinates so I'm wondering whether it's more natural to represent X (left hand) and Y (right hand) as in written notation or to reverse it (Y,X) so the right hand represents the X coordinate. In (Y,X) as I face in the Y-direction, right hand (00001) would represent +1 in the X-direction, to my right as represented by my right hitchhiking thumb. Atucovic (talk) 22:34, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

Curling and higher powers[edit]

The curling method does not really allow you to count to higher numbers, right? As I see it, once you use the right index finger for 1024, it's no longer available for 1. I suppose you could have a "curled up" and "curled down." There should be some sort of note to this effect. What do people do? IQAG1060 14:31, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

I always thought the finger curling thing was for finger ternary. Anyways, I can't keep my fingers straight when doing finger binary (it's either down or curled) so it's useless for me. Althai 19:59, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
I fold by thumb across my palm. Then touching thumb for set, not touching for clear. This loses bit per hand, but I find it much easier and faster than the pictured versions. Also "4" is less offensive. Each hand is a nibble -- Hex digit. Rte66 (talk) 19:05, 25 November 2009 (UTC)rte66
For larger numbers I use quadnary which is 0-255 (1 Byte) single handed and 0-65535 (2 Bytes) two handed. Rte66 (talk) 19:05, 25 November 2009 (UTC)rte66
My quadnary is not touching thumb 0; on top of thumb 1; level to thumb 2; below thumb 3. Counting is extremely fast, but I cannot convert to decimal in my head, converting to Hex is easy though; Rte66 (talk) 19:05, 25 November 2009 (UTC)rte66

I'm considering switching the curling section to finger ternary. The curling method is not a full number system, as IQAG1060's comments above state. I'll probably do it this weekend. samwaltz 22:54, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
Ternary would be a different article. I'm deleting it. Mtijn 13:06, 14 June 2007 (UTC)
I have restored the section on curling fingers, although curling the fingers now realises a third possibility, making the representation "ternary", it is still used to count in, and represent, binary. --Deon Steyn 05:56, 15 June 2007 (UTC)
Finger ternary needs its own page as "Ternary". Finger binary is a natural expression whereas finger ternary is not. Atucovic (talk) 22:34, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

Editing Decisions[edit]

I'm lodging a protest before I take undo action: Father Goose has removed sections that are important to this topic. This topic is called "Finger Binary" and not "Finger Binary Counting" and therefore removing "X-Y Coordinates" and "Buffering" is a mistake. Binary is a number system that can represent scalars, vectors and other data, and buffering is a unique concept in computer science that can be represented by a finger binary game between two persons. Atucovic (talk) 22:34, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

I removed them because coordinates and buffering can be done in any number system. They have no special relation to finger binary.--Father Goose (talk) 23:56, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
True but the paradigm is different with 'finger + binary' meaning not only scalars can be represented but also vectors, hexadecimal colors, words and so on. Let's leave relevant information in, build on that, 17 otherwise 4. (talk) 18:19, 24 January 2009 (UTC)
All of those things can be represented in any number system. I don't see how the representation of any of the types of data you have mentioned are specifically important to finger binary. However, I have added two sentences describing what I believe is your general point about vectors: [1].--Father Goose (talk) 01:04, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
Lol. I love it. Seriously, though, you are right when you say any number system can represent any of the types of data. So, use finger-decimal to represent the score of 42-20 or the date of Dec. 31. Chances are finger-binary is much more practical. The degree of freedom in finger-binary is an order of magnitude better. Atucovic (talk) 02:59, 26 January 2009 (UTC)



I started this animation project four years ago and completed it last night. (docs) I'm not entirely satisfied with the results but I won't promise when I attempt the next iteration. You choose. — Xiongtalk* 19:24, 22 December 2009 (UTC)

Looks pretty good. I'd recommend slowing it down by a factor of two... it's hard to keep track of the transitions above 16. I'd suggest re-doing #15 -- your ring finger is in a different position from where it was on "14", which is confusing. You also need to swap around a few: #24 is 26, #25 is 27, #26 is 24, and #27 is 25. All the others appear to be correct.--Father Goose (talk) 03:23, 23 December 2009 (UTC)

Excuse me; but it looks pretty bad -- a point well illustrated by its failure to communicate its substantive message. Assuming (as I was taught) that the power of the thumb is zero and increases with each digit, frame 24 shows (or is intended to show) 11010 (24); I believe all frames are strictly correct and in order. They are merely illegible.

You note correctly that I made an inexplicable change in orientation at 15; but I seem to have continued thus, more or less, from there to at least 23.

Timing an animation is always difficult. Your point is well taken that half-second frames are not easy to follow; but then to extend them to a full second each would drag the full running time, including the scant rests, to over half a minute -- clearly in excess of modern attention span trained at the glass teat.

I labored over a table version containing all frames in one still image, which permits leisured examination while the animation remains snappy. Alas, by the time the table is scaled to any reasonable dimensions bad studio and bad lab combine to produce nothing worth showing, even to discuss.

The plain fact (as I mentioned) is that this version is severely limited, both technically and artistically. My hand is cramped, particularly in the third finger. My purpose in uploading this is to stimulate comment and inform the next iteration, which will be done (if at all) from scratch.

Thank you for your comments. — Xiongtalk* 10:54, 23 December 2009 (UTC)

11010 = 16+8+2 = 26. Really, it doesn't look that bad. It needs the fixes I mentioned (and I'm not entirely keen on the "goldenrod" background), but having the subject animated in this way will be a real enhancement to the article.--Father Goose (talk) 21:16, 23 December 2009 (UTC)

Now I look again and I agree with you about the out-of-sequence (and mislabeled) frames. Not sure when they got out of sequence but there it is. I still think this proves the point that the thing is substandard: Each time I look at it, I get a different notion of what it indicates. The figures simply aren't clear.

I have a new camera and am busy recruiting a more dextrous model. The next iteration *will* be better; trust me. — Xiongtalk* 12:41, 26 December 2009 (UTC)

Okay. :-) --Father Goose (talk) 19:37, 26 December 2009 (UTC)

Quaternary finger counting?[edit]

My brother and I started doing this some years back. Never found a real use for it, but it's fun, and you get to exercise the fingers. Good for computer breaks.

Anyways, we also found that we can easily count with two bits per finger, thus obtaining a quaternary system, and being able to count to 1 048 575 on two hands. Add in two positions for each wrist and elbow, and four for each shoulder, and you can count to 268 435 456. Plus, you look like a regular nutcase. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:11, 15 September 2010 (UTC)

Quaternary finger counting is indeed not too difficult. A reasonable set of positions would be: 0 = flat against the palm; 1 = curled backwards to touch the palm at the fingertip; 2 = curved, but not touching the palm; 3 = straight up. But I am not sure if any reliable source has covered the ternary or quaternary versions. Double sharp (talk) 15:09, 9 January 2017 (UTC)

With palms oriented toward the counter's face??[edit]

Seriously, WTF? Am I correct in assuming that "the counter" means "the person who counts", and that it is the same person the hands belong to? In this case, if the hands are placed with the palm facing the counter's face, and if the left hand is on the left and the right hand on the right, then the order of the fingers does not match the table:

Left hand Right hand
Pinky Ring Middle Index Thumb Thumb Index Middle Ring Pinky
Power of two 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20
Value 512 256 128 64 32 16 8 4 2 1

You would get instead:

Left hand Right hand
Thumb Index Middle Ring Pinky Pinky Ring Middle Index Thumb
Power of two 25 26 27 28 29 20 21 22 23 24
Value 32 64 128 256 512 1 2 4 8 16

which is completely counterintuitive, unless you cross your hands and put the right hand before (i.e. to the left of) the left.

More probably, the phrase "With palms oriented toward the counter's face" must be wrong. Teo8976 (talk) 19:29, 26 January 2015 (UTC)


It looks like something happened on 19 Jan 2015. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:11, 6 September 2015 (UTC)

I went ahead and fixed the finger orders and the examples.

I added in a new table that shows how it works when you hold your hands either direction.

And I added a table about one handed left handed - which is useful for left handed people I guess.  :) (talk) 01:05, 6 September 2015 (UTC)

The Finger[edit]

The finger.jpg

Really?? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:11, 6 November 2017 (UTC)