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1. Introduction to Floating Point

So far in binary we have looked at integers (whole numbers). But as you should know from maths class, this is not the whole story. There are also numbers that have decimal or fractional parts, separated from the integer using a decimal point.

We call these numbers real numbers, and computers treat them much differently than integers. The system computers use to handle decimals and fractions is called 'floating point'. Floating point numbers are very space efficient whilst at the same time they can cover a very wide range of numbers from extremely small to extremely large numbers.


Floating point notation is a very efficient way of storing decimal numbers whilst being able to represent a wide range of values.


In this section, we will show you how floating point is used to describe both denary and binary numbers.