What Is Float Data Type in SQL Server?

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Scott Campbell

The float data type in SQL Server is used to store approximate numeric values with a floating decimal point. It is commonly used for scientific calculations or when precision is not critical.

Why Use the Float Data Type?

The float data type offers a wide range of values, allowing you to store both small and large numbers. It can store numbers ranging from -1.79E+308 to -2.23E-308, 0, and from 2.23E-308 to 1.79E+308.

Using float can be beneficial when dealing with calculations that involve very large or very small numbers, such as astronomical measurements or extremely precise measurements in scientific experiments.

Syntax:

column_name FLOAT(precision)

The precision parameter specifies the maximum number of digits that can be stored in the float column. However, it is important to note that specifying precision does not guarantee the exact storage of values due to the approximate nature of the float data type.

Example:

CREATE TABLE Product (
    ProductID INT,
    Price FLOAT(6)
);

In this example, we create a table called “Product” with two columns: “ProductID” of INT data type and “Price” of FLOAT data type with a precision of 6.

Considerations:

  • Precision Limitations: The precision parameter should be carefully chosen based on the expected range and magnitude of your values. If you require high precision, consider using other numeric data types like decimal or numeric instead of float.
  • Rounding Errors: Due to the approximate nature of float, it is subject to rounding errors. This means that small discrepancies may occur when performing calculations with float values.

    It is important to be aware of this behavior and handle it accordingly in your applications.

  • Storage Size: The storage size of a float data type depends on the precision specified. A float(4) will require less storage space than a float(8). It is recommended to choose an appropriate precision to optimize storage and performance.

Conclusion:

The float data type in SQL Server provides an efficient way to store approximate numeric values with a floating decimal point. It offers a wide range of values and is commonly used for scientific calculations or situations where precision is not critical. However, it is important to consider the precision limitations, rounding errors, and storage size when using the float data type in your database designs.

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