MOO-cows Mailing List Archive


Re: Floating point error

> It appears that there's a problem with floating point in 1.8.0p1...
> On a MOO running 1.8.0beta3 and on another running beta2:

> ;1.6
> => 1.6

> On a MOO running 1.8.0p1 and on ANOTHER running p1:
> ;1.6
> => 1.6000000000000001
^^^^^1 2345678901234567    17 digits.

I agree that this is probably a bug, but you should be aware that
looking for 17 digits of precision sends you off into the weeds

Each decimal digit has log2(10) bits of information in it.  So 17
digits is around 56.5 bits of information.  If we go poke at
/usr/include/float.h, we find out there's only 53 bits of mantissa in
IEEE double-precision floats.  So we're trying to print more
information than we actually have.

More fun:

  ;1.6 == 1.6000000000000001
  => 1
  => 1.6000000000000003

If you care about accuracy, and your application floating point, you
should be careful.  Don't forget that floating point doesn't give you
infinite precision, and that, for example, you almost NEVER want to
use "a == b" on floating point numbers; use "abs(a - b) < .0001" or
whatever is appropriate for your application.  Many of the standard
numerical analysis issues could be magnified by persistence if you're
not careful.

Jay Carlson

Flat text is just *never* what you want.   ---stephen p spackman


Home | Subject Index | Thread Index