Sunday, January 09, 2011


Excess-3 binary-coded decimal (XS-3), also called biased representation or Excess-N, is a numeral system used on some older computers that uses a pre-specified number N as a biasing value. It is a way to represent values with a balanced number of positive and negative numbers. In XS-3, numbers are represented as decimal digits, and each digit is represented by four bits as the BCD value plus 3 (the "excess" amount):
The smallest binary number represents the smallest value. (i.e. 0 − Excess Value)
The greatest binary number represents the largest value. (i.e. 2^ N+1 − Excess Value -1)
To encode a number such as 127, then, one simply encodes each of the decimal digits as above, giving (0100, 0101, 1010).

The primary advantage of XS-3 coding over BCD coding is that a decimal number can be nines' complemented (for subtraction) as easily as a binary number can be ones' complemented; just invert all bits. In addition, when the sum of two XS-3 digits is greater than 9, the carry bit of a four bit adder will be set high. This works because, when adding two numbers that are greater or equal to zero, an "excess" value of six results in the sum. Since a four bit integer can only hold values 0 to 15, an excess of six means that any sum over nine will overflow.

Adding Excess-3 works on a different algorithm than BCD coding or regular binary numbers. When you add two XS-3 numbers together, the result is not an XS-3 number. For instance, when you add 1 and 0 in XS-3 the answer seems to be 4 instead of 1. In order to correct this problem, when you are finished adding each digit, you have to subtract 3 (binary 11) if the digit is less than decimal 10 and add three if the number is greater than or equal to decimal 10 (thus causing the number to wrap).

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