In computer science, a primitive is a fundamental data type that cannot be broken down into a more simple data type. For example, an integer is a primitive data type, while an array, which can store multiple data types, is not.
Java, for instance, has eight primitive data types:
- boolean – a single TRUE or FALSE value (typically only requires one bit)
- byte – 8-bit signed integer (-127 to 128)
- short – 16-bit signed integer (-32,768 to 32,767)
- int – 32-bit signed integer (-231 to -231 -1)
- long – 64-bit signed integer (-263 to -263 -1)
- float – 32-bit floating point number
- double – 64-bit floating point number
- char – 16-bit Unicode character
Primitives supported by each programming language are sometimes called "built-in data types" since they store values directly in memory. Non-primitive data types store references to values rather than the values themselves. Examples of non-primitive Java data types include arrays and classes.