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Data and C

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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Key Concepts

C has an amazing number of numeric types. This reflects the intent of C to avoid putting obstacles in the path of the programmer. Instead of mandating, say, that one kind of integer is enough, C tries to give the programmer the options of choosing a particular variety (signed or unsigned) and size that best meet the needs of a particular program.

Floating-point numbers are fundamentally different from integers on a computer. They are stored and processed differently. Two 32-bit memory units could hold identical bit patterns, but if one were interpreted as a float and the other as a long, they would represent totally different and unrelated values. For example, on a PC, if you take the bit pattern that represents the float number 256.0 and interpret it as a long value, you get 113246208. C does allow you to write an expression with mixed data types, but it will make automatic conversions so that the actual calculation uses just one data type.

In computer memory, characters are represented by a numeric code. The ASCII code is the most common in the U.S., but C supports the use of other codes. A character constant is the symbolic representation for the numeric code used on a computer system—it consists of a character enclosed in single quotes, such as 'A'.

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