ParseInt Fails on Small Numbers

A while ago I was trying to get the floor of a number using parseInt() in a Node.js app. The specific use case was expected to return 0, but a larger integer was returned instead. I opened up the node REPL to test out the behaviour of parseInt() and it turns out that when working with very small or very large numbers parseInt() breaks. Check out the sample below.

// Define very small number
var small = 5/1000000000; // 5e-9

// parseInt() with radix of 10
var parseIntResult = parseInt(small, 10);

// Math.floor() to compare with
var floorResult = Math.floor(small);

console.log("parseInt:   " + parseIntResult);
console.log("Math.floor: " + floorResult);

// Some more examples
console.log("3e-9:       " + parseInt(3e-9, 10));
console.log("7e-9:       " + parseInt(7e-9, 10));

/** OUTPUT **/
// parseInt:   5
// Math.floor: 0
// 3e-9:       3
// 7e-9:       7

As you can see from this result, parseInt() is operating on the scientific notation version of the number rather than the actual value. However, Math.floor() produces the correct result. So, be careful using parseInt() as it can lead to very unexpected bugs.

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