Int vs. Long: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 2, 2024
Int (Integer) is a data type representing whole numbers within a specific range, typically smaller than long, which represents larger whole numbers with a wider range.

Key Differences

Int, short for integer, is a data type in programming that represents whole numbers. A standard int typically occupies 32 bits in memory, offering a range from -2,147,483,648 to 2,147,483,647. Long, on the other hand, is an extended form of integer data type, often occupying 64 bits, which allows it to store much larger numbers, ranging from -9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to 9,223,372,036,854,775,807.
In the context of computer memory and processing, int is more efficient when dealing with numbers within its range. It consumes less memory and can be processed faster than long. Long, due to its larger size, is more memory-intensive and potentially slower in processing but is essential when dealing with numbers beyond the int range.
When it comes to programming languages like Java, int is often the default choice for numerical operations unless a larger range is explicitly needed. Long is specifically used when the calculations or data being processed are expected to exceed the limits of int, thereby preventing overflow errors.
Int is adequate for many everyday programming tasks, such as counting items, indexing arrays, and simple mathematical operations. Long becomes crucial in applications like financial calculations, scientific computations, and situations where high precision and a larger range are required.
From a beginner's perspective, int is usually the go-to data type for whole numbers, due to its simplicity and efficiency. Long is introduced as they progress into more complex tasks requiring larger numerical ranges, ensuring accurate and error-free computations in such scenarios.

Comparison Chart

Memory Size

Typically 32 bits
Typically 64 bits

Numeric Range

-2,147,483,648 to 2,147,483,647
-9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to 9,223,372,036,854,775,807

Usage Scenario

General-purpose for smaller numbers
Large numbers beyond the int range

Efficiency

More efficient in memory and processing
Less efficient due to larger size

Programming Example

Indexing in arrays, simple counters
Financial calculations, scientific computations

Int and Long Definitions

Int

In mathematics, int symbolizes a non-decimal number.
The function returned an int value of 5.

Long

Long refers to an extended length or duration.
We went on a long journey.

Int

Int is used to represent non-fractional numbers in computing.
The loop iterates 10 times, controlled by an int counter.

Long

In programming, long is a data type for large whole numbers.
The variable 'bigNumber' was declared as a long.

Int

Int is an abbreviation for integer, a whole number.
The array index must be an int.

Long

Long can describe something of great extent or scope.
The long wall stretched across the city.

Int

Int, in database terms, is a field for storing integers.
The database column 'age' is of type int.

Long

Long is used to express a desire or wish for something.
She longed for a chance to visit Paris.

Int

In programming, int refers to a data type for storing whole numbers.
The variable 'count' was declared as an int.

Long

As an adverb, long means for an extended time period.
He waited long for the news.

Long

Extending or traveling a relatively great distance.

Long

Having relatively great height; tall.

FAQs

When is long necessary?

Long is necessary for handling numbers beyond the range of int.

What is an int?

An int is a data type for storing whole numbers within a specific range.

When should I use int?

Use int for general-purpose programming with smaller numerical values.

Is int faster than long?

Yes, int is generally faster and more memory-efficient than long.

Can long be used in place of int?

Technically yes, but it's not efficient for small numbers.

What is a long?

A long is a data type for storing larger whole numbers than an int.

How much memory does an int use?

An int typically uses 32 bits of memory.

How much memory does a long use?

A long usually occupies 64 bits of memory.

Do all programming languages support int and long?

Most modern programming languages support these data types.

Can int store decimal values?

No, int can only store whole numbers.

Can int and long be interchanged?

They can be, with caution to avoid overflow or truncation errors.

Why is long less efficient than int?

Due to its larger size, it consumes more memory and can be slower in processing.

Is long default in any programming languages?

No, int is usually the default; long is used specifically when needed.

Is long used in mathematical computations?

Yes, especially where high precision and large numbers are involved.

Can int and long store negative values?

Yes, both can store negative values.

What happens when int overflows?

It typically wraps around to the minimum value.

Can I convert int to long and vice versa?

Yes, with type casting, but be mindful of the value range.

Are int and long different in all programming languages?

Their specifics can vary, but the general concept is consistent across languages.

Are int and long signed or unsigned?

In most languages, both are signed by default.

What is the literal suffix for long in C++?

It's 'L' or 'l', as in 123L.