Endianess Definition


Referring to the orientation of a computer system, application, or network design with respect to the placement of the most significant bit, digit, or byte in a coding scheme. Big-endian places the most significant bit, digit, or byte in the first, or leftmost, position. Little-endian places the most significant bit, digit, or byte in the last, or rightmost, position. Bi-endian systems can work either way. Motorola processors employ the big-endian approach, whereas Intel processors take the little-endian approach.Telephone numbers, for example, are big-endian, beginning with a country code, followed by an area code, a central office prefix, and a line number. Table E-5 illustrates how the decimal value 47,572 would be expressed in hexadecimal and binary notation (two octets) and how it would be stored using these two methods. Endianess is a pointless matter of philosophical orientation, with no right or wrong, but often with intense feelings on both sides of the argument.The dispute is a classic example of a holy war, or jihad, in which the various impossibly rigid positions are based on (or at least justified on) the basis of irreducible pseudoreligious principles rather than reason. (Fortunately, there are no documented casualties resulting from the Endian Wars.) The terms derive from Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, in which the Big-Endians were a faction of people on the islands of Lilliput and Blefuscu who defied the emperor's decree that softboiled eggs should be broken at the small end before being consumed. See also bi-endian, big-endian, bit, byte, and little-endian.

Webster's New World Telecom

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