# Rosetta Phone

Imagine that you are a solider in a foreign land. You're driving your vehicle and come to a sign along side the road that appears to be a warning of some sort. Only the sign is in a language that you don't know and has alphabetic characters that don't appear on your vehicle's computer keyboard. What would you do? Your challenge is to convert an image of that sign into characters that can be read by your computer and then transferred into a computer-based translator.

### What are binary numbers?

Many students learn how to count, add, and subtract numbers without understanding the basic structure behind our most-used number system. The base-ten, or decimal, system is based on groups of tens. The base-ten system uses ten digits: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. The number 12 should be thought of as one group of ten with two left over. Other number systems exist and are used more often than you might think. The binary system is a base-two system with only two digits: 0 and 1. Most computers use the binary system for two major reasons. The first reason is that the numbers are easy to work with. For instance, the base-two system does not require the learning of large multiplication tables. The second major reason is that since only two values exist in the system, voltage and magnetic properties can be used to represent the system. For instance, either a voltage is on (given a value of 1) or off (given a value of 0).

### What are pixels?

Digital imaging is a technique in which a picture is represented as a sequence of numbers. To do this, the picture must be overlaid with a grid of uniformly sized cells. Each cell now represents one element of the picture, called a pixel. The term "pixel" combines the words picture and element and can be thought of as the smallest part of the picture. A tile mosaic provides an excellent analogy of a pixel. An individual tile that makes up the mosaic can be thought of as a pixel. Each tile is the smallest part of the mosaic, just as a pixel is the smallest part of any digital image.

### What is optical character recognition?

Optical character recognition is abbreviated as OCR. In the OCR process, handwritten text, printed material, and some images are converted to machine-encoded text. The OCR method can be used for a number of functions, including converting textbooks into machine searchable text. The process scans a document and records the dark and light areas in a digital format. These light and dark areas are then compared to the known letters of the alphabet for the language in which the document was written. Even the best OCR systems today still have errors associated with the text conversion; however, conversion rates are approaching 99%.

### What is the resolution of an image?

The resolution of a digital image relates to the number of pixels contained in the image file, or in a given part of it. For example, printer manufacturers rate their printers in dpi, or dots per inch. A printer that prints 300 dots per inch is not printing as high a resolution as a printer that prints 2400 dots per inch. The higher the dpi, the higher the resolution. Most digital devices, such as computer monitors, cameras, printers, and scanners, have resolutions reported in units of dots per inch. In general, if the size of an image remains the same and the number of pixels in the image increases, the image becomes "smoother" and more pleasing to the eye. The resolution of an image is reported in units of pixels per inch (ppi). If the resolution of a device is low, then the smallest "tile" or pixel is quite large. This results in a "jagged" or pixelated image. Watches, VCRs, and the huge screens at stadiums often use large pixels to represent numbers. The numbers aren't smooth, or very pleasing to look at, but they can be made with very few pixels.

### Communication patterns and learning

In order to understand each other, people must be able to communicate. Complex communication patterns have emerged in every culture, whether or not they use written communication (and many don't). Similarly, in order to understand issues within any discipline, scholars must be able to communicate. This often requires a vocabulary specific to the discipline. Sometimes, a word means two different things in two different areas of study. The word stress, for example, means one thing in building construction and a different thing in psychology. Students should understand that communication between two individuals or groups requires a number of shared assumptions and shared interpretation patterns.