Binary digIT = bit

One mathematical bit can define two levels or states, on or off, black or white, 0 or 1 etc.; two bits can define four levels, three bits eight, and so on: generally 2^{n}, where n = the number of bits. In image terms 10 bits can be used to define 1024 levels of brightness from black to white (with ITU-R BT.601 and 709, 64 = black and 940 = white).

Note that in both decimal and binary numbers the first digit describes the largest part of the numberâ€™s value. For example, the base-10 number 254 is 11111110 in binary. In binary the first digit of the number is called the most significant bit (MSB). Likewise the last digit is the least significant bit (LSB).

*See also: Byte*