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Posted 19 May 2012

Convert Binary Single Precision Value to Float in JavaScript

, 19 May 2012
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Given a 32 bit unsigned integer that is really an IEEE single precision floating point number and convert it using JavaScript


This code takes a IEEE single-precision (32 bit) number that has been stuffed in a 32 bit unsigned integer and converts it to a floating point number. This situation can often occur when receiving a stream of binary information with floating point values embedded in the stream. Converting the packed bytes into a floating point number is easy in most languages using type-punning or other conversion techniques, but is not so easy with JavaScript.


I am interfacing to an industrial device that has a built-in web server. I can receive events from the device by connecting to a special URL. It outputs events as a continual stream of JSON constructs. The data consists of an event identifier as a 32 bit unsigned number, and an optional parameter that is also a 32 bit unsigned number. For most events, the optional parameter is an integer or bit fields, easy to manipulate with JavaScript. However, for a few events, the value is really an IEEE single precision number that was emitted as an integer. I needed to convert this number back to floating point to properly interpret it. A search of the Internet did not show any concrete examples, so I wrote my own.

Using the Code

This is a global function that takes an integer value as input and return a floating point value. It breaks up the integer into its various fields as defined by the IEEE 754 specification and reconstructs them into a floating point number. It only works for 32 bit single precision numbers. And it doesn't return negative zero and subnormal numbers.

function ieee32ToFloat(intval) {
    var fval = 0.0;
    var x;//exponent
    var m;//mantissa
    var s;//sign
    s = (intval & 0x80000000)?-1:1;
    x = ((intval >> 23) & 0xFF);
    m = (intval & 0x7FFFFF);
    switch(x) {
        case 0:
            //zero, do nothing, ignore negative zero and subnormals
        case 0xFF:
            if (m) fval = NaN;
            else if (s > 0) fval = Number.POSITIVE_INFINITY;
            else fval = Number.NEGATIVE_INFINITY;
            x -= 127;
            m += 0x800000;
            fval = s * (m / 8388608.0) * Math.pow(2, x);
    return fval;

I'm a novice when it comes to JavaScript, so if you see a better way of implementing this, please post it. If you want to make a 64 bit double precision example, post it too for the next guy.


  • 19 May 2012 - Initial release


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Robert Murrell
United States United States
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