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SIFT descriptor normalized to uchar

In sift.cpp I see that while normalizing, sift descriptors are converted to uchar I have 3 questions

  1. I have seen similar conversion in other places, is it a common practice to convert SIFT descriptors to uchar value ? if yes why ?
  2. Why limit to 255 when converting
  3. Why OpenCV uses float to store an integer value less than 256 ? why not uchar ?