Standard Article

Floating-Point Computer Arithmetic

  1. Eric Quinnell1,
  2. Earl E. Swartzlander Jr2

Published Online: 15 SEP 2008

DOI: 10.1002/9780470050118.ecse907

Wiley Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Engineering

Wiley Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Engineering

How to Cite

Quinnell, E. and Swartzlander, E. E. 2008. Floating-Point Computer Arithmetic. Wiley Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Engineering. 1–11.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Advanced Micro Devices, Austin, Texas

  2. 2

    University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2008


The field of floating-point computer arithmetic is a subsection of computer engineering that concentrates on the development and execution of arithmetic in microprocessors. The floating-point sections of processor chips and coprocessors are the units in a microprocessor that perform most of the arithmetic operations for applications such as 3D graphics, multimedia, signal processing, Fourier transforms, etc.

The floating-point format is a form of scientific notation. A floating-point number may represent a vast range of real numbers, with values ranging from nearly infinitely large to nearly infinitely small, all in a finite bit-width. Although many floating-point formats have been used, this chapter is based on the IEEE-754 Standard that is widely used at the current time.


  • floating point;
  • significand;
  • rounding;
  • multiplication;
  • floating-point adder;
  • floating-point multiplier;
  • close path