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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book


C++'s basic types fall into two groups. One group consists of values that are stored as integers. The second group consists of values that are stored in floating-point format. The integer types differ from each other in the amount of memory used to store values and in whether they are signed or unsigned. From smallest to largest, the integer types are bool, char, signed char, unsigned char, short, unsigned short, int, unsigned int, long, and unsigned long. There is also a wchar_t type whose placement in this sequence of size depends on the implementation. C++ guarantees that char is large enough to hold any member of the system's basic character set, wchar_t can hold any member of the system's extended character set, short is at least 16 bits, int is at least as big as short, and long is at least 32 bits and at least as large as int. The exact sizes depend on the implementation.

Characters are represented by their numeric codes. The I/O system determines whether a code is interpreted as a character or as a number.

The floating-point types can represent fractional values and values much larger than integers can represent. The three floating-point types are float, double, and long double. C++ guarantees that float is no larger than double and that double is no larger than long double. Typically, float uses 32 bits of memory, double uses 64 bits, and long double uses 80 to 128 bits.

By providing a variety of types in different sizes and in both signed and unsigned varieties, C++ lets you match the type to particular data requirements.

C++ uses operators to provide the usual arithmetical support for numeric types: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and taking the modulus. When two operators seek to operate on the same value, C++'s precedence and associativity rules determine which operation takes place first.

C++ converts values from one type to another when you assign values to a variable, mix types in arithmetic, and use type casts to force type conversions. Many type conversions are "safe," meaning you can make them with no loss or alteration of data. For example, you can convert an int value to a long value with no problems. Others, such as conversions of floating-point types to integer types, require more care.

At first, you might find the large number of basic C++ types a little excessive, particularly when you take into account the various conversion rules. But most likely you will eventually find occasions when one of the types is just what you need at the time, and you'll thank C++ for having it.

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