#1,112 – How Integers Are Stored in .NET

Integer values in .NET are stored in memory as described below.  The examples below use a 2-byte short data type as an example.

A value of zero is stored by setting every bit in the storage location to zero.

Positive values are stored directly as their corresponding binary number.

1112-001

The maximum possible integer value has all bits set to 1 except for the leftmost.  So Max = 2^(n-1) – 1, where n is the total number of bits.

Negative integer values are stored using a two’s complement representation, calculated by starting with the bit pattern for the corresponding positive number, negating all of the bits, and then adding 1 to the result.

1112-002

The minimum possible integer value (largest negative value) has only the leftmost bit set to 1.  So Min = -(2^(n-1)), where n is the total number of bits.