Both tags and are missing a usage guidance, and I cannot see a difference between the questions tagged either way. Both seem to encompass not only binary, octet, decimal, representations and so on but also floating-point, two's complement, and similar systems.

Or are some of the questions simply tagged incorrectly?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ They seem synonymous to me, but let's wait for other voices. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Commented Dec 17, 2018 at 13:11
  • $\begingroup$ I think anyone who would disagree strongly has had enough time to answer. I've suggested a tag excerpt for number-formats and will request a mod to merge the tags. $\endgroup$
    – Discrete lizard Mod
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 17:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Discretelizard A mod has seen your request, but I'm holding off merging because it looks like we may want to do some manual cleanup to distinguish floating point from integers. Or maybe there's no cleanup to do, but this needs to be settled first. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 0:04

2 Answers 2


Looking through questions tagged and questions tagged , I do see a difference: is almost exclusively about representations of integers (17/19 about integers, 2/19 about floating point), whereas is evenly spread (31/64 about floating point).

I definitely agree that we should have a single tag name to refer to representations of integers. But maybe we should have a different name for representations of floating point numbers? And what about other kinds of numbers (I could only find one question about exact arithmetic on rationals)?

Regarding the choice of primary tag name, it's usually a good idea to align with Wikipedia. If there's a debate to be had about naming, they've usually gone through it and we might as well not redo the debate here. Furthermore using the same terminology on major websites makes things easier to find for people. Wikipedia has an article “numeral system” about mathematical representations of integers, which is not exactly the same thing as representations inside computers, and an article “computer number format” which covers integers, exact non-integers and floating point.

  • $\begingroup$ Most commonly used numbers other than integers and floats can be represented with them, e.g. rationals with a pair of integers (possibly with the requirement of having gcd 1), finite fields with a subset of the integers, etc. Representing integers and floats seems to be the hardest part for these number systems. (of course, there are all sorts of obscure number systems, but I think those are more likely to be asked about on Mathematics. So, I doubt we need a tag for other numbers. $\endgroup$
    – Discrete lizard Mod
    Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 11:33

I propose we merge the tags, without any additional cleanup and have as the main tag.

Rationale: While @Gilles notes that the tag is almost exclusively about representing integers and the is about even on integers vs floats, I think this distinction better made clear by adding other tags, such as or .

As for the name, Wikipedia uses "Computer number format" for this topic. The 'computer' part is redundant for this site, so 'number formats' is a name for which the meaning should be clear.


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