2.5   FLOATING-POINT REPRESENTATION

If we wanted to build a real computer, we could use any of the integer representations that we just studied. We would pick one of them and proceed with our design tasks. Our next step would be to decide the word size of our system. If we want our system to be really inexpensive, we would pick a small word size, say, 16 bits. Allowing for the sign bit, the largest integer this system could store is 32,767. So now what do we do to accommodate a potential customer who wants to keep a tally of the number of spectators paying admission to professional sports events in a given year? Certainly, the number is larger than 32,767. No problem. Let’s just make the word size larger. Thirty-two bits ought to do it. Our ...

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