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FAQ Topic - Why does simple decimal arithmetic give strange results? (2008-10-11)

P: n/a
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FAQ Topic - Why does simple decimal arithmetic give strange
results?
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For example, ` 5 * 1.015 ` does not give exactly
` 5.075 ` and ` 0.06+0.01 ` does
not give exactly ` 0.07 ` in javascript.

ECMAScript numbers are represented in binary as IEEE-754 (IEC 559)
Doubles, with a resolution of 53 bits, giving an accuracy of
15-16 decimal digits; integers up to about ` 9e15 ` are precise, but
few decimal fractions are. Given this, arithmetic is as exact
as possible, but no more. Operations on integers are exact if
the true result and all intermediates are integers within that
range.

In particular, non-integer results should not normally be
compared for equality; and non-integer computed results
commonly need rounding; see 4.6.

http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/7wkd9z69.aspx

http://www.merlyn.demon.co.uk/js-misc0.htm#DW4

Otherwise, use ` Math.round ` on the results of expressions which
should be of integer value.
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Oct 10 '08 #1
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In comp.lang.javascript message <48***********************@news.sunsite.
dk>, Fri, 10 Oct 2008 23:00:02, FAQ server <ja********@dotinternet.be>
posted:
>ECMAScript numbers are represented in binary as IEEE-754 (IEC 559)
Doubles, with a resolution of 53 bits, giving an accuracy of
15-16 decimal digits; integers up to about ` 9e15 ` are precise, but
few decimal fractions are. Given this, arithmetic is as exact
as possible, but no more. Operations on integers are exact if
the true result and all intermediates are integers within that
range.
The last sentence is correct. However, the semi-literate may not
recognise the difference between the concepts expressed by "if" and
"only if".

One can say that "Operations on Numbers are exact if the true result
and all intermediates can be expressed exactly as binary fractions with
a 53-bit mantissa and an exponent in the range -X to +Y" which is also
(I think) exact and covers more, but not all, cases. One can say that
"Operations on Numbers are exact if the true result and all
intermediates can be expressed exactly as IEEE Doubles", but that won't
mean anything to the intended audience.

Can the wording be briefly improved so that naive readers will realise
that operations on numbers which are multiples of 0.5, 0,25, 0,125,
.... about 1.1102230246251565404236316680908e-16 are safe? Or is "few
decimal fractions" good enough?

--
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Web <URL:http://www.merlyn.demon.co.uk/- FAQish topics, acronyms, & links.
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Oct 11 '08 #2

P: n/a
Dr J R Stockton wrote:
In comp.lang.javascript message <48***********************@news.sunsite.
dk>, Fri, 10 Oct 2008 23:00:02, FAQ server <ja********@dotinternet.be>
posted:
>ECMAScript numbers are represented in binary as IEEE-754 (IEC 559)
Doubles, with a resolution of 53 bits, giving an accuracy of
15-16 decimal digits; integers up to about ` 9e15 ` are precise, but
few decimal fractions are. Given this, arithmetic is as exact
as possible, but no more. Operations on integers are exact if
the true result and all intermediates are integers within that
range.

The last sentence is correct. However, the semi-literate may not
recognise the difference between the concepts expressed by "if" and
"only if".

One can say that "Operations on Numbers are exact if the true result
and all intermediates can be expressed exactly as binary fractions with
a 53-bit mantissa and an exponent in the range -X to +Y" which is also
(I think) exact and covers more, but not all, cases. One can say that
"Operations on Numbers are exact if the true result and all
intermediates can be expressed exactly as IEEE Doubles", but that won't
mean anything to the intended audience.

Can the wording be briefly improved so that naive readers will realise
that operations on numbers which are multiples of 0.5, 0,25, 0,125,
... about 1.1102230246251565404236316680908e-16 are safe? Or is "few
decimal fractions" good enough?
There could be an example, but then that might warrant more explanation
that cannot be quickly explained.

Garrett

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comp.lang.javascript FAQ <URL: http://jibbering.com/faq/ >
Oct 12 '08 #3

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