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mathematics (NaN) An IEEE floating point representation
for the result of a numerical operation which cannot return a
valid number value. A NaN can result from multiplying an
infinity by a zero, or from subtracting one infinity from
another [what else?].
NaN is encoded as a special bit pattern [what pattern?]
which would otherwise represent a floating-point number. It
is used to signal error returns where other mechanisms are not
convenient, e.g. a hardware floating-point unit and to allow
errors to propagate through a calculation.