I was reading about floating point numbers in a programming language book and faced with the following sentence :

For example, 0.1 is stored as 1, with a note to shift the decimal point one place to the left. 12.75 is stored as 1275, with a note to shift the decimal point two places to the left.

Can anybody explain to me that what "with a note" means?

  • Can you please clarify your question? Are you asking what the word "note" means in this context? If so, please check a dictionary and see if any of the meanings there fit this context. Or are you asking what "a note" means in the context of a book about programming? If so, please give us more context, like what type of book it is, what the surrounding context is, and so on.
    – gotube
    Commented Oct 23, 2021 at 3:02
  • 1
    It is a nontechnical way of saying there is an accompanying piece of stored information (how much the decimal point should be shifted).
    – nschneid
    Commented Oct 23, 2021 at 3:04
  • Not part of your question, but I suggest "programming language book", rather than "language programming book". Commented Oct 23, 2021 at 4:46

1 Answer 1


Like @nschneid said in a comment, it is a non-technical way of conveying how the actual number is stored. If you blur your eyes enough, "with a note" is a metaphor for a physical note1 that tells you how to interpret the information.

The metaphor says this:

Someone wanted to express the number 12.75 in a way that you can understand. They wrote the sequence of digits 00000001275 on a piece of paper. They also wrote the words "The decimal place goes after the third-rightmost digit" on another piece of paper. They gave both pieces of paper to you, so you know to interpret the information as the number 12.75.

In the metaphor, the second piece of information telling you where to put the decimal place is the note.

This is the whole idea behind "floating-point" notation: the decimal point floats (moves) back and forth between the digits. This means the system can express both very large and very small numbers without changing how many bits are used.

The actual implementation of this idea will be explained in your textbook.

1Wiktionary: A written or printed communication or commitment.

  • So can I say that the term 'note' says to me what I have to do? Commented Oct 23, 2021 at 3:44
  • Sort of. "Note" is more informational; something telling you what you have to do would be an "instruction." In this context "instruction" would work just as well though—you have to put the decimal point in the right place, or you will not be using the correct number.
    – randomhead
    Commented Oct 23, 2021 at 4:11
  • Thank you. Excuse me, in your explanation above, you said: ` In this context "instruction" would work just as well though—you have to put..`, but why did you use ** as well though—you have to** in this way? I mean why did you write "—" between "though" and "you "? Commented Oct 23, 2021 at 4:26
  • And is this example true? I've put my shoes on the desk, with a not I shouldn't put them there. I mean, although I knew I shouldn't put them on the desk, I did it! Commented Oct 23, 2021 at 4:53
  • For the first question look up "em dash." For the second... whether that's a "true" example depends on whether you did it or not! It does seem a strange thing to do.
    – randomhead
    Commented Oct 23, 2021 at 14:35

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