Magic Number

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What Does Magic Number Mean?

The term “magic number” in IT has several meanings. Perhaps most prominently, magic numbers are constants or static numbers that are insufficiently declared in a program, or hidden within source code. Some definitions of “magic number” are linked to the use of the UNIX operating system and its use of memory addresses.

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Techopedia Explains Magic Number

Experts often describe magic numbers as strongly typed data objects. One description of a magic number is a constant that is not defined using a commented piece of source code, but that is just stuck in the program implicitly. In some cases, magic numbers lead to numeric overflows and runtime errors. They may have a negative effect on algorithm functionality. While there are a variety of slang uses for the term “magic number,” the general idea is that these numbers have some particular significance, either in the limitations of an operating system, their impacts on a software program, or some other meaning.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.