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IDL

IDL Data Types

IDL Data Types

In IDL there are twelve basic, atomic data types, each with its own form of constant. The data type assigned to a variable is determined either by the syntax used when creating the variable, or as a result of some operation that changes the type of the variable. IDL's basic data types are discussed in more detail beginning with Defining and Using Constants.

In addition, IDL provides several compound data types that serve as containers for variables of other data types. Examples of compound data types include pointers, structures, objects, lists, and hashes. You cannot create a constant of a compound data type, but it is generally possible to create an “empty” variable of a compound data type. See Compound Data Types for additional information.

Finally, there is the special !NULL system variable, which represents an undefined variable.

The following table lists IDL's data types, provides examples of how to explicitly create a variable of each type, and list the routines used to create variables and arrays of each type. Type codes shown in the Type Code column correspond to the type code returned by the SIZE function. Type names shown in the Type Name column correspond to the string returned by the TYPENAME function.

Data Type

Description

Type
Code

Type Name

Creation

Routines

Null An undefined variable. !NULL may be used for array concatenation, array indexing, and for comparison. 0 UNDEFINED
a = !NULL
a = [ ]
a = { }
!NULL

Byte

An 8-bit unsigned integer ranging in value from 0 to 255. Pixels in images are commonly represented as byte data.

1

BYTE
a = 5B
a = BYTE(5)

BYTE

BYTARR

Integer

A 16-bit short signed integer ranging from –32,768 to +32,767.

2

INT
b = 0 [see below]
b = 0S
b = FIX(0)

FIX

INTARR

Unsigned Integer

A 16-bit short unsigned integer ranging from 0 to 65535.

12

UINT
c = 0U [see below]
c = 0US
c = UINT(0)

UINT

UINTARR

Long

A 32-bit long signed integer ranging in value from
–2 147 483 648 to +2 147 483 647.

3

LONG
d = 0L
d = LONG(0)

LONG

LONARR

Unsigned Long

A 32-bit long unsigned integer ranging in value from 0 to 4 294 967 295.

13

ULONG
e = 0UL
e = ULONG(0)

ULONG

ULONARR

64-bit Long

A 64-bit signed integer ranging in value from
–9 223 372 036 854 775 808 to +9 223 372 036 854 775 807.

14

LONG64
f = 0LL
f = LONG64(0)

LONG64

LON64ARR

64-bit Unsigned Long

A 64-bit unsigned integer ranging in value from 0 to 18 446 744 073 709 551 615.

15

ULONG64
g = 0ULL
g = ULONG64(0)

ULONG64

ULON64ARR

Floating-point

A 32-bit, single-precision, floating-point number in the range of ±1038, with approximately six or seven significant digits.

4

FLOAT
h = 0.0
h = FLOAT(0)

FLOAT

FLTARR

Double-precision

A 64-bit, double-precision, floating-point number in the range of ±10308 with approximately 15 or 16 significant digits.

5

DOUBLE
i = 0.0D
i = DOUBLE(0)

DOUBLE

DBLARR

Complex

A real-imaginary pair of single-precision, floating-point numbers. Complex numbers are useful for signal processing and frequency domain filtering.

6

COMPLEX
j = COMPLEX(1.0, 0.0)
j = COMPLEX(1,0)

COMPLEX

COMPLEXARR

Double-precision complex

A real-imaginary pair of double-precision, floating-point numbers.

9

DCOMPLEX
k = DCOMPLEX(1.0, 0.0)

DCOMPLEX

DCOMPLEXARR

String

A sequence of characters, from 0 to 2 147 483 647 (2.1 GB) characters in length, which is interpreted as text.

7

STRING
l = 'Hello'
l = STRING([72B, 101B,
108B, 108B, 111B])

STRING

STRARR

Structure

A compound data type that contains pairs of tags and values, where the values can be of any data type. Once a structure is created, neither the tags nor the data types of the values associated with the tags can be changed.

8

Structure name or ANONYMOUS
s = {name,tag:0b}
s = Create_Struct(tag1, 0.0, tag2, 'hello')

CREATE_STRUCT

Pointer

A compound data type that contains a reference to a single value, where the value can be of any data type. The data type of the value referred to can be changed.

10

POINTER
p = PTR_NEW(0b)

PTR_NEW

Object

A compound data type that contains a reference to an instance of an IDL object class. Object instances can contain data of any type, but the data types allowed are defined by the object class and cannot be changed after creation.

11

Class name or OBJREF (for null objects)
o = OBJ_NEW('class')

OBJ_NEW

List

A compound data type that contains a reference to a collection of values. The individual values can be of any data type, and the data types and values can be changed.

11

LIST
l = LIST(1,2)

LIST

Hash A compound data type that contains a reference to a collection of key-value pairs. The key can be of any scalar type, and the value can be of any type. The data types and values can be changed. 11 HASH h = HASH('Id', 1234)

HASH

Dictionary A hash whose keys are case-insensitive strings that must be valid variable names. The key/value pairs can be accessed using "dot" notation. 11 DICTIONARY d = DICTIONARY('key', 1234) DICTIONARY
Ordered Hash A hash which preserves the order of the key/value pairs. 11 ORDEREDHASH o = ORDEREDHASH('A',1,'B',2) ORDEREDHASH

Short Integers and the DEFINT32 Compile Option

When creating short 16-bit integers (signed or unsigned), you can omit the "S" if the DEFINT32 (or IDL2) compile option is not turned on. If the DEFINT32 (or IDL2) compile option is turned on, then by default any integer constants will be 32-bit integers and you need to use the "S" to force IDL to create 16-bit integers. For example:

IDL> help, 1234, 1234u
  <Expression>    INT       =     1234
  <Expression>    UINT      =     1234
IDL> compile_opt DEFINT32
IDL> help, 1234, 1234u
  <Expression>    LONG      =         1234
  <Expression>    ULONG     =         1234
IDL> help, 1234s, 1234us
  <Expression>    INT      =         1234
  <Expression>    UINT     =         1234

Precision of Floating-Point Numbers

The precision of IDL's floating-point numbers depends on the platform and compiler. The values shown here are minimum values; in some cases, IDL may deliver slightly more precision than we have indicated. If your application uses numbers that are sensitive to floating-point truncation or round-off errors, or values that cannot be represented exactly as floating-point numbers, this is something you should consider.

For more information on floating-point mathematics, see Accuracy and Floating Point Operations. For information on your machine's precision, see MACHAR.



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