Numerical representation (computers)
Mata-Toledo, Ramon A. Department of Computer Science, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia.
- Sign bit
- Representation of integers
- Representation of real numbers
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Numerical data in a computer are written in basic units of storage made up of a fixed number of consecutive bits. The most commonly used units in the computer and communication industries are the byte (8 consecutive bits), the word (16 consecutive bits), and the double word (32 consecutive bits). A number is represented in each of these units by setting the bits according to the binary representation of the number. By convention the bits in a byte are numbered, from right to left, beginning with zero. Thus, the rightmost bit is bit number 0 and the leftmost bit is number 7. The rightmost bit is called the least significant bit, and the leftmost bit is called the most significant bit. Higher units are numbered also from right to left. In general, the rightmost bit is labeled 0 and the leftmost bit is labeled (n − 1), where n is the number of bits available. See also: Bit
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