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Chapter 4 Basic Data Types

Each piece of data in a computer program has a data type, which specifies:

  • its possible values,

  • the bit patterns used to represent those values,

  • operations that can be performed on the data, and

  • its meaning.

Some programming languages require the programmer to explicitly state the data types of values used in the program. Examples are C, C++, and Java. Other languages, for example, Python, BASIC, can determine a data type from how the value is used. CPU architectures specify machine-level data types, often including specialized data types that are unique to that particular architecture.

In this chapter we study the relationship between the C/C++ integer, int, and character, char, data types. Composite data types are discussed in Chapter 15, and the float data type is discussed in Chapter 16.