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GENERAL: WHAT IS A FLOATING-POINT OPERATION?


Information in this article applies to:

  • C166 Version 4.05
  • C251 Version 2.14
  • C51 Version 6.01

QUESTION

What, in plain english, is a floating-point operation and how does it work within the computer system?

ANSWER

In C, an operation is the effect of an operator on an expression. Specific to floating-point numbers, a floating-point operation is any mathematical operation (such as +, -, *, /) or assignment that involves floating-point numbers (as opposed to binary integer operations).

Floating-point numbers have decimal points in them. The number 2.0 is a floating-point number because it has a decimal in it. The number 2 (without a decimal point) is a binary integer.

Floating-point operations involve floating-point numbers and typically take longer to execute than simple binary integer operations. For this reason, most embedded applications avoid wide-spread usage of floating-point math in favor of faster, smaller integer operations.

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Last Reviewed: Thursday, January 26, 2006


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