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Interval package
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Revision as of 09:08, 18 January 2015

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, 09:08, 18 January 2015
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→Motivation: Added bullet: System dependent results

* Even if the developer would be proficient, most developing environments / technologies limit floating-point arithmetic capabilities to a very limited subset of IEEE 754: Only one or two data types, no rounding modes, missing functions … [http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~wkahan/JAVAhurt.pdf]

* Results are hardly predictable. [https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00128124/en/] All operations produce the best possible accuracy ''at runtime'', this is how a floating point works. Contrariwise, financial computer systems typically use a [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fixed-point_arithmetic fixed-point arithmetic] (COBOL, PL/I, …), where overflow and rounding can be precisely predicted ''at compile-time''.

* Results are system dependent. All but the most basic floating-point operations are not guaranteed to be accurate and produce different results depending on low level libraries and hardware. [http://www.gnu.org/software/libc/manual/html_node/Errors-in-Math-Functions.html#Errors-in-Math-Functions] [http://developer.amd.com/tools-and-sdks/cpu-development/libm/]

* If you do not know the technical details (cf. first bullet) you ignore the fact that the computer lies to you in many situations. For example, when looking at numerical output and the computer says “<code>ans = 0.1</code>,” this is not absolutely correct. In fact, the value is only ''close enough'' to the value 0.1. Additionally, many functions produce limit values (∞ × −∞ = −∞, ∞ ÷ 0 = ∞, ∞ ÷ −0 = −∞, log (0) = −∞), which is sometimes (but not always!) useful when overflow and underflow occur.

240

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