2,147,483,647: The Story behind This Special Number

special programming number

2,147,483,647 is a very big number that most programmers are probably familiar with.

Most of them have seen this number a few times: 2,147,483,647. But why? What makes this a special number? That’s because 2,147,483,647 is the maximum positive value for 32-bit signed binary integers in computing.

Which means on a 32-bit computer, whenever you create a signed integer, the maximum value for that integer is 2,147,483,647. What do you think will happen if you add 1 to it? It’s going to reset all the way back to -2,147,483,648.

That’s only one side of the stories. It turns out that computers keep track of the current date and time by counting the number of seconds since January 1, 1970, UTC. We call this the Unix timestamp. The problem is that on 32-bit computers, the number that stores the seconds will eventually reach its maximum capacity of 2,147,483,647.

So what do you think will happen then? What is affected and what is not affected by this problem? How can we fix this issue? Should we just go up to 64-bits? If we go up to 64-bits, then how long can we survive before having the next issue?

Watch the video below which will answer all of these questions!

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