I would like to know which is the form of the primitive recursive function that gives the i-th digit of the binary expression of a given number.

  • $\begingroup$ By $i$-th digit do you mean the i-th digit where the first digit is the least significant digit? I.e. the i-th digit from the right when we write it as a binary number? Also, can you already assume some basic functions to be primitive recursive, such as multiplication or any constant functions? $\endgroup$ – Bram28 May 29 '17 at 0:07
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that's right. We consider that digit you spell and the functions you seem to need. $\endgroup$ – gibarian May 29 '17 at 0:11
  • $\begingroup$ Did you already show multiplication to be primitive recursive? And any constant functions? $\endgroup$ – Bram28 May 29 '17 at 0:12

OK, I assume you have already shown the quotient (quo) and remainder (rem) functions to be primtive recursive. Then what you want can be done as follows:


$helpbinarydigit(n,0)= rem(n,2)$

$helpbinarydigit(n,i+1)=\begin{cases} helpbinarydigit(quo(n,2),i) & \text{if } rem(n,2)=0\\ helpbinarydigit(quo(n-1,2),i) & \text{if } rem(n,2)=1 \end{cases}$


You keep dividing $n$ by $2$, until you get to the right digit. As you divide by $2$, if the remainder is $1$, the first subtract $1$ before dividing by $2$. As such, you will in effect keep removing the least significant digit from the number in binary representation, until you get to the digit you want.


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