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Representing Numeric Data with Number and Floating-Point Datatypes

are enabled and disabled. Oracle Database does not allow exceptions to be enabled; the database behavior is that specified by IEEE 754 for when exceptions are disabled. In particular, no distinction is made between signalling NaNs and quiet NaNs. Programmers using Oracle Call Interface can retrieve NaN values from Oracle Database; whether a retrieved NaN value is signalling or quiet is dependent on the client platform and beyond the control of Oracle Database.

IEEE 754 does not define the bit pattern for either type of NaN. Positive infinity, negative infinity, positive zero, and negative zero are each represented by a specific bit pattern.

Ignoring signs, there are five classes of values: zero, subnormal, normal, infinity and NaN. The first four classes are ordered as:

zero < subnormal < normal < infinity

In IEEE 754, NaN is unordered with other classes of special values and with itself.

Behavior of Special Values for Native Floating-Point Datatypes

When used with the database, special values of native floating-point datatypes behave as follows:

All NaNs are quiet.

IEEE 754 exceptions are not raised.

NaN is ordered:

all non-NaN < NaN

any NaN == any other NaN

-0 is converted to +0.

All NaNs are converted to the same bit pattern.

See Also: "Comparison Operators for Native Floating-Point Datatypes" on page 2-16 for more information on NaN compared to other values

Rounding of Native Floating-Point Datatypes

IEEE 754 defines four rounding modes. The rounding modes are: round to nearest

(default), round to positive infinity, round to negative infinity, and round to zero. Oracle Database supports only round to nearest mode.

Selecting a Datatype 2-15

Representing Numeric Data with Number and Floating-Point Datatypes

Comparison Operators for Native Floating-Point Datatypes

Comparison operators are defined for equal to, not equal to, greater than, greater than or equal to, less than, less than or equal to, and unordered. There are special cases:

Comparisons ignore the sign of zero (-0 is equal to, not less than, +0).

In Oracle Database, NaN is equal to itself. NaN is greater than everything except itself. That is, NaN == NaN and NaN > x, unless x is NaN.

See Also: "Behavior of Special Values for Native Floating-Point Datatypes" on page 2-15 for more information on comparison results, ordering, and other behaviors of special values

Arithmetic Operators for Native Floating-Point Datatypes

Arithmetic operators are defined for multiplication, division, addition, subtraction, remainder, and square root. The mode used to round the result of the operation can be defined. Exceptions can be raised when operations are performed. Exceptions can also be disabled.

Until recently, Java required floating-point arithmetic to be exactly reproducible. IEEE 754 does not require such behavior. IEEE 754 allows for the result of operations, including arithmetic, to be delivered to a destination that uses a range greater than that used by the operands to the operation. The result of a double-precision multiplication can be computed at an extended double-precision destination. When this is done, the result must be rounded as if the destination were single-precision or double-precision. However, the range of the result (the number of bits used for the exponent) can use the range supported by the wider (extended double-precision) destination. This may result in a double-rounding error in which the least significant bit of the result is incorrect.

This can only occur for double-precision multiplication and division on hardware that implements the IA-32 and IA-64 instruction set architecture. Thus, with the exception of this case, arithmetic for these datatypes will be reproducible across platforms. When the result of a computation is NaN, all platforms will produce a value for which IS NAN is true. However, all platforms do not have to use the same bit pattern.

Conversion Functions for Native Floating-Point Datatypes

Functions are defined that convert between floating-point and other formats, including string formats that use decimal precision. Precision may be lost during

2-16 Oracle Database Application Developer's Guide - Fundamentals

Representing Numeric Data with Number and Floating-Point Datatypes

the conversion. Exceptions can be raised during conversion. The following conversions can be done:

float to double

double to float

float/double to decimal (string)

decimal (string) to float/double

float/double to integer valued float/double

Exceptions for Native Floating-Point Datatypes

The IEEE 754 specification defines the following exceptions that can be thrown: invalid, inexact, divide by zero, underflow, and overflow. Oracle Database does not raise these exceptions for native floating-point datatypes. Generally, situations that would raise an exception produce the following values:









Invalid Operation


Divide by Zero



any value –


rounding was





Selecting a Datatype 2-17

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