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Java Programing Language: Using Underscore Characters in Numeric Literals

Posted on 01 June 2012 by Moki

In Java SE 7 and later, any number of underscore characters (_) can appear anywhere between digits in a numerical literal. This feature enables you, for example. to separate groups of digits in numeric literals, which can improve the readability of your code.

For instance, if your code contains numbers with many digits, you can use an underscore character to separate digits in groups of three, similar to how you would use a punctuation mark like a comma, or a space, as a separator.

The following example shows other ways you can use the underscore in numeric literals:

long creditCardNumber = 1234_5678_9012_3456L;
long socialSecurityNumber = 999_99_9999L;
float pi = 3.14_15F;
long hexBytes = 0xFF_EC_DE_5E;
long hexWords = 0xCAFE_BABE;
long maxLong = 0x7fff_ffff_ffff_ffffL;
byte nybbles = 0b0010_0101;
long bytes = 0b11010010_01101001_10010100_10010010;

You can place underscores only between digits; you cannot place underscores in the following places:

  • At the beginning or end of a number
  • Adjacent to a decimal point in a floating point literal
  • Prior to an F or L suffix
  • In positions where a string of digits is expected

The following examples demonstrate valid and invalid underscore placements (which are highlighted) in numeric literals:

// Invalid: cannot put underscores
// adjacent to a decimal point
float pi1 = 3_.1415F;
// Invalid: cannot put underscores
// adjacent to a decimal point
float pi2 = 3._1415F;
// Invalid: cannot put underscores
// prior to an L suffix
long socialSecurityNumber1 = 999_99_9999_L;

// This is an identifier, not
// a numeric literal
int x1 = _52;
// OK (decimal literal)
int x2 = 5_2;
// Invalid: cannot put underscores
// At the end of a literal
int x3 = 52_;
// OK (decimal literal)
int x4 = 5_______2;

// Invalid: cannot put underscores
// in the 0x radix prefix
int x5 = 0_x52;
// Invalid: cannot put underscores
// at the beginning of a number
int x6 = 0x_52;
// OK (hexadecimal literal)
int x7 = 0x5_2;
// Invalid: cannot put underscores
// at the end of a number
int x8 = 0x52_;

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Java Programing Language: What are “Integer Literals”?

Posted on 01 June 2012 by Moki

An integer literal is of type long if it ends with the letter L or l; otherwise it is of type int. It is recommended that you use the upper case letter L because the lower case letter l is hard to distinguish from the digit 1.

Values of the integral types byte, short, int, and long can be created from int literals. Values of type long that exceed the range of int can be created from long literals. Integer literals can be expressed by these number systems:

  • Decimal: Base 10, whose digits consists of the numbers 0 through 9; this is the number system you use every day
  • Hexadecimal: Base 16, whose digits consist of the numbers 0 through 9 and the letters A through F
  • Binary: Base 2, whose digits consists of the numbers 0 and 1 (you can create binary literals in Java SE 7 and later)

For general-purpose programming, the decimal system is likely to be the only number system you’ll ever use. However, if you need to use another number system, the following example shows the correct syntax. The prefix 0x indicates hexadecimal and 0b indicates binary:

// The number 26, in decimal
int decVal = 26;
// The number 26, in hexadecimal
int hexVal = 0x1a;
// The number 26, in binary
int binVal = 0b11010;

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