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Datatypes in C Intro to Programming
MUHAMMAD HAMMAD WASEEM 1
Data Types in C
As we studied earlier, the primary data types could be of three varieties—char, int, and float. It
may seem odd to many, how C programmers manage with such a tiny set of data types. Fact is, the C
programmers aren’t really deprived. They can derive many data types from these three types. In fact,
the number of data types that can be derived in C, is in principle, unlimited. A C programmer can always
invent whatever data type he needs. Not only this, the primary data types themselves could be of several
types. For example, a char could be an unsigned char or a signed char. Or an int could be a short int or
a long int.
Integers, long and short
C offers a variation of the integer data type that provides what are called short and long integer
values. The intention of providing these variations is to provide integers with different ranges wherever
possible. Though not a rule, short and long integers would usually occupy two and four bytes
respectively. Each compiler can decide appropriate sizes depending on the operating system and
hardware for which it is being written, subject to the following rules:
 shorts are at least 2 bytes big
 longs are at least 4 bytes big
 shorts are never bigger than ints
 ints are never bigger than longs
long integers cause the program to run a bit slower, but the range of values that we can use is
expanded tremendously. The value of a long integer typically can vary from -2147483648 to
+2147483647. long variables which hold long integers are declared using the keyword long, as:
long int i ;
long int abc ;
If there are such things as longs, symmetry requires shorts as well—integers that need less space
in memory and thus help speed up program execution. short integer variables are declared as:
short int j ;
short int height ;
C allows the abbreviation of short int to short and of long int to long. So the declarations made
above can be written as,
long i ; long abc ;
short j ; short height ;
Integers, signed and unsigned
Sometimes, we know in advance that the value stored in a given integer variable will always be
positive—when it is being used to only count things, for example. In such a case we can declare the
variable to be unsigned, as in,
unsigned int num_students ;
With such a declaration, the range of permissible integer values (for a 16-bit OS) will shift from
the range -32768 to +32767 to the range 0 to 65535. Thus, declaring an integer as unsigned almost
Datatypes in C Intro to Programming
MUHAMMAD HAMMAD WASEEM 2
doubles the size of the largest possible value that it can otherwise take. This so happens because on
declaring the integer as unsigned, the left-most bit is now free and is not used to store the sign of the
number. Note that an unsigned integer still occupies two bytes. This is how an unsigned integer can be
declared:
unsigned int i ;
unsigned i ;
Like an unsigned int, there also exists a short unsigned int and a long unsigned int. By default a
short int is a signed short int and a long int is a signed long int.
Chars, signed and unsigned
Parallel to signed and unsigned ints (either short or long), similarly there also exist signed and
unsigned chars, both occupying one byte each, but having different ranges. To begin with it might appear
strange as to how a char can have a sign. Consider the statement
char ch = 'A' ;
Here what gets stored in ch is the binary equivalent of the ASCII value of ‘A’ (i.e. binary of 65).
And if 65’s binary can be stored, then -54’s binary can also be stored (in a signed char).
A signed char is same as an ordinary char and has a range from -128 to +127; whereas, an
unsigned char has a range from 0 to 255. Let us now see a program that illustrates this range:
main( )
{
char ch = 291 ;
printf ( "n%d %c", ch, ch ) ;
}
What output do you expect from this program? Possibly, 291 and the character corresponding to
it. Well, not really. Surprised? The reason is that ch has been defined as a char, and a char cannot take a
value bigger than +127. Hence when value of ch exceeds +127, an appropriate value from the other side
of the range is picked up and stored in ch. This value in our case happens to be 35, hence 35 and its
corresponding character #, gets printed out.
Floats and Doubles
A float occupies 4 bytes in memory and can range from -3.4e38 to +3.4e38. If this is insufficient
then C offers a double data type that occupies 8 bytes in memory and has a range from -1.7e308 to
+1.7e308. A variable of type double can be declared as,
double a, population ;
If the situation demands usage of real numbers that lie even beyond the range offered by double
data type, then there exists a long double that can range from -1.7e4932 to +1.7e4932. A long double
occupies 10 bytes in memory.
You would see that most of the times in C programming one is required to use either chars or
ints and cases where floats, doubles or long doubles would be used are indeed rare.
The essence of all the data types that we have learnt so far has been captured in:
Datatypes in C Intro to Programming
MUHAMMAD HAMMAD WASEEM 3

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[ITP - Lecture 05] Datatypes

  • 1. Datatypes in C Intro to Programming MUHAMMAD HAMMAD WASEEM 1 Data Types in C As we studied earlier, the primary data types could be of three varieties—char, int, and float. It may seem odd to many, how C programmers manage with such a tiny set of data types. Fact is, the C programmers aren’t really deprived. They can derive many data types from these three types. In fact, the number of data types that can be derived in C, is in principle, unlimited. A C programmer can always invent whatever data type he needs. Not only this, the primary data types themselves could be of several types. For example, a char could be an unsigned char or a signed char. Or an int could be a short int or a long int. Integers, long and short C offers a variation of the integer data type that provides what are called short and long integer values. The intention of providing these variations is to provide integers with different ranges wherever possible. Though not a rule, short and long integers would usually occupy two and four bytes respectively. Each compiler can decide appropriate sizes depending on the operating system and hardware for which it is being written, subject to the following rules:  shorts are at least 2 bytes big  longs are at least 4 bytes big  shorts are never bigger than ints  ints are never bigger than longs long integers cause the program to run a bit slower, but the range of values that we can use is expanded tremendously. The value of a long integer typically can vary from -2147483648 to +2147483647. long variables which hold long integers are declared using the keyword long, as: long int i ; long int abc ; If there are such things as longs, symmetry requires shorts as well—integers that need less space in memory and thus help speed up program execution. short integer variables are declared as: short int j ; short int height ; C allows the abbreviation of short int to short and of long int to long. So the declarations made above can be written as, long i ; long abc ; short j ; short height ; Integers, signed and unsigned Sometimes, we know in advance that the value stored in a given integer variable will always be positive—when it is being used to only count things, for example. In such a case we can declare the variable to be unsigned, as in, unsigned int num_students ; With such a declaration, the range of permissible integer values (for a 16-bit OS) will shift from the range -32768 to +32767 to the range 0 to 65535. Thus, declaring an integer as unsigned almost
  • 2. Datatypes in C Intro to Programming MUHAMMAD HAMMAD WASEEM 2 doubles the size of the largest possible value that it can otherwise take. This so happens because on declaring the integer as unsigned, the left-most bit is now free and is not used to store the sign of the number. Note that an unsigned integer still occupies two bytes. This is how an unsigned integer can be declared: unsigned int i ; unsigned i ; Like an unsigned int, there also exists a short unsigned int and a long unsigned int. By default a short int is a signed short int and a long int is a signed long int. Chars, signed and unsigned Parallel to signed and unsigned ints (either short or long), similarly there also exist signed and unsigned chars, both occupying one byte each, but having different ranges. To begin with it might appear strange as to how a char can have a sign. Consider the statement char ch = 'A' ; Here what gets stored in ch is the binary equivalent of the ASCII value of ‘A’ (i.e. binary of 65). And if 65’s binary can be stored, then -54’s binary can also be stored (in a signed char). A signed char is same as an ordinary char and has a range from -128 to +127; whereas, an unsigned char has a range from 0 to 255. Let us now see a program that illustrates this range: main( ) { char ch = 291 ; printf ( "n%d %c", ch, ch ) ; } What output do you expect from this program? Possibly, 291 and the character corresponding to it. Well, not really. Surprised? The reason is that ch has been defined as a char, and a char cannot take a value bigger than +127. Hence when value of ch exceeds +127, an appropriate value from the other side of the range is picked up and stored in ch. This value in our case happens to be 35, hence 35 and its corresponding character #, gets printed out. Floats and Doubles A float occupies 4 bytes in memory and can range from -3.4e38 to +3.4e38. If this is insufficient then C offers a double data type that occupies 8 bytes in memory and has a range from -1.7e308 to +1.7e308. A variable of type double can be declared as, double a, population ; If the situation demands usage of real numbers that lie even beyond the range offered by double data type, then there exists a long double that can range from -1.7e4932 to +1.7e4932. A long double occupies 10 bytes in memory. You would see that most of the times in C programming one is required to use either chars or ints and cases where floats, doubles or long doubles would be used are indeed rare. The essence of all the data types that we have learnt so far has been captured in:
  • 3. Datatypes in C Intro to Programming MUHAMMAD HAMMAD WASEEM 3