Floating-point

Posted on: July 26, 2006 at 12:00 AM

Posted on: July 26, 2006 at 12:00 AM

Floating-point numbers are like *real* numbers in mathematics,
for example, 3.14159, -0.000001. Java has two kinds of floating-point
numbers: `float`

and
`double`

, both stored in IEEE-754 format.
The default type when you write a floating-point literal is `double`

.

type | Size |
Range | Precision | |

name | bytes | bits |
approximate | in decimal digits |

float | 4 | 32 | +/- 3.4 * 10^{38} | 6-7 |

double | 8 | 64 | +/- 1.8 * 10^{308} | 15 |

Because there are only a limited number of bits in each floating-point type, some numbers are inexact, just as the decimal system can not represent some numbers exactly, for example 1/3. The most troublesome of these is that 1/10 can not be represented exactly in binary.

There are two types of notation for floating-point numbers. Any of these numbers
can be followed by "F" (or "f") to make it a `float`

instead of the
default `double`

.

**Standard (American) notation**which is a series of digits for the integer part followed by a decimal point followed by a series of digits for the fraction part. Eg, 3.14159 is a`double`

. A sign (+ or -) may precede the number.**Scientific notation**which is a standard floating-point literal followed by the letter "E" (or "e") followed by an optionally signed exponent of 10 which is used as a multiplier (ie, how to shift the decimal point). Generally scientific notation is used only for very large or small numbers.Scientific Standard 1.2345e5 123450.0 1.2345e+5 123450.0 1.2345e-5 0.000012345

No exceptions are generated by floating-point operations. Instead of an interruption in execution, the result of an operation may be positive infinity, negative infinity, or NaN (not a number). Division by zero or overflow produce infinity. Subtracting two infinities produces a NaN. Use methods in the wrapper classes (Float or Double) to test for these values.

- What Every Computer Scientist Should Know About Floating-Point Arithmetic (http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~dws/grouplinks/floating_point_math.pdf) has a very detailed, and mathematical, analysis of floating-point.