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Least significant bit

The bit position in a binary integer giving the units value, that is, determining whether the number is even or odd.

In computing, the least significant bit (LSB) is the bit position in a binary integer giving the units value, that is, determining whether the number is even or odd. The LSB is sometimes referred to as the low-order bit or right-most bit, due to the convention in positional notation of writing less significant digits further to the right. It is analogous to the least significant digit of a decimal integer, which is the digit in the ones (right-most) position.

It is common to assign each bit a position number, ranging from zero to N-1, where N is the number of bits in the binary representation used. Normally, this is simply the exponent for the corresponding bit weight in base-2 (such as in 231..20). Although a few CPU manufacturers assign bit numbers the opposite way (which is not the same as different endianness), the term least significant bit itself remains unambiguous as an alias for the unit bit.

By extension, the least significant bits (plural) are the bits of the number closest to, and including, the LSB.

The least significant bits have the useful property of changing rapidly if the number changes even slightly. For example, if 1 (binary 00000001) is added to 3 (binary 00000011), the result will be 4 (binary 00000100) and three of the least significant bits will change (011 to 100). By contrast, the three most significant bits (MSBs) stay unchanged (000 to 000).

Least significant bits are frequently employed in pseudorandom number generators, steganographic tools, hash functions, and checksums.

Key Terms

binary integer
bit position
computing
least significant bit
lsb
number
right
significant bit
significant bits
units value

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Acronymn

LSB

Synonymns

Least significant bit
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Last modified on March 2 2020
Content adapted from Wikipedia
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