## Tuesday, 5 March 2013

### Arithmetic overflow

The term arithmetic overflow or simply overflow has the following meanings. In a computer, the condition that occurs when a calculation produces a result that is greater in magnitude than that which a given register or storage location can store or represent. In a computer, the amount by which a calculated value is greater in magnitude than that which a given register or storage location can store or represent. Note that the overflow may be placed at another location.

Most computers distinguish between two kinds of overflow conditions. A carry occurs when the result of an addition or subtraction, considering the operands and result as unsigned numbers, does not fit in the result. Therefore, it is useful to check the carry flag after adding or subtracting numbers that are interpreted as unsigned values. An overflow proper occurs when the result does not have the sign that one would predict from the signs of the operands. Therefore, it is useful to check the overflow flag after adding or subtracting numbers that are represented in two's complement form.