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Floating-point is a method in computing to represent an arbitrary real number in a fixed amount of bits. A floating-point system can represent very large or very small numbers despite a fixed amount of bits, because the position of the decimal point is stored with the numerical value. In contrast, fixed-point systems represent a smaller range of values as the position of the decimal point is fixed. The trade-off is that a fixed point number can hold more precision within its range for a given amount of bits. The most popular floating-point standard used on many processors is the IEEE 754 standard.[1]


  1. http://babbage.cs.qc.edu/courses/cs341/IEEE-754references.html