# 9. Going beyond the limit

If a calculation exceeds the limits of the floating point scheme then the system is designed to flag an error in the CPU. A good program will take note of this error warning and do something about it (other than simply crashing in a heap!)

If the range goes beyond the most positive or most negative largest number, this is called an '**overflow**'. Trying to divide a number by zero is certain to cause an overflow.

If the number is too tiny to be represented, this is called an '**underflow**'. For example dividing a number by a very large number may cause an underflow.

### Overflow and Underflow

### Truncation

Some numbers have infinte decimal points (irrational numbers) for example 1/3 as a decimal is 0.333 recurring.

But floating point can only represent so many decimal digits. Therefore 'Truncation' will occur.

*Truncation is where decimal values beyond the truncation point are simply discarded and it causes errors in floating point calculations. *

### Rounding

If you have a number such as 3.456 then if you have to round this to three significant digits, then the number becomes 3.46 and a small error called the 'rounding error' has occured

Note that the CPU will not flag any error when truncation and rounding occurs, as it is actiing within its limits. All a programmer can do is carefully assess whether his calculations will lead to significant rounding and truncation errors.

Copyright © www.teach-ict.com