>> integral values less than about 253 will be represented and compared exactly
Since this OT is turning into a C refresher course, factual accuracy should be in order. Your statement is true of C/C++ double, which is also what Perl uses for numeric values. The example float x, y; declares a couple of single-precision floats, which can represent exactly integral values of up to about 225.
A summary of IEEE-754 format can be found here and an interactive converter here.
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