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MIN_VALUE of Float & Double class

shweta mathur
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 23, 2002
Posts: 109
Is there any specific reason why the MIN_VALUE of Float & Double class are constants holding the smallest positive nonzero value of type float/double and not the negative number.
I would always expect that MIN_VALUE of a class means you cannot have a object having a value less than MIN_VALUE. But was amazed to see the output of the following Code.

fl1 = -1.23454
fl2 = 1.4E-45
fl is less than MIN_VALUE
fll is less than MIN_VALUE

--Shweta<br />SCJP 1.4 <br />SCWCD
Ben Ritchie
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Joined: Nov 18, 2002
Posts: 98
It is due to the way in which floating point numbers are stored. Unlike integers, floats and doubles are stored in binary as an exponent and a mantissa (a Google search will show how these work). Simplified a bit, if you think of the number 2x10^3 (==2000), the 2 is the mantissa and the 3 is the exponent.
Both the exponent and the mantissa have a sign bit. For MAX_VALUE neither will be set, and the value is the largest that can be stored given the width of the type. The most negative number that can be stored in a Float or Double is simply equal to MAX_VALUE with the mantissa sign bit set, or in other words "-MAX_VALUE". As this is easy to work out there is not much point in storing it.
It is more useful to know the smallest number that can be stored - this will have the exponent sign bit set (so it will be very small - given the example above, 2x10^-3 == 0.002) but not the mantissa sign bit. That is what is stored in MIN_VALUE.
Hope that is clear - or at least clearer

SCJP1.4, SCJD, SCEA (in progress)
shweta mathur
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 23, 2002
Posts: 109
Thanks Ben,
That was really nice & interesting to know..!!
I agree. Here's the link:
subject: MIN_VALUE of Float & Double class
It's not a secret anymore!