What is Floating point Arithmetic?

Floating-point arithmetic is considered an esoteric subject by many people. Floating point arithmetic derives its name from something that happens when you use exponential notation. It's also surprising that floating-point is ubiquitous in computer systems.

Almost every computers language has a floating-point datatype - from PCs to supercomputers have floating-point accelerators, most compilers will be called upon to compile floating-point algorithms from time to time, even virtually every operating system must respond to floating-point exceptions such as overflow.

Squeezing infinitely many real numbers into a finite number of bits requires an approximate representation. Although there are infinitely many integers, in most programs the result of integer computations can be stored in 32 bits.


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