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How Java’s Floating-Point Hurts Everyone Everywhere

How Java’s Floating-Point Hurts Everyone Everywhere

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Published by Chris Nash

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Published by: Chris Nash on Aug 10, 2008
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05/09/2014

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 How Java’s Floating-Point Hurts Everyone Everywhere
 July 30, 2004 6:28 pm Work in Progress Subject to Supersession Page 1
 How Java’s Floating-Point Hurts Everyone Everywhere
 byProf. W. Kahan and Joseph D. DarcyElect. Eng. & Computer ScienceUniv. of Calif. @ BerkeleyOriginally presented 1 March 1998
 at the invitation of the
 ACM 1998 Workshop on Java forHigh–Performance Network Computing
 held at Stanford University
 http://www.cs.ucsb.edu/conferences/java98
 This document:
http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~wkahan/JAVAhurt.pdf
 or 
http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~darcy/JAVAhurt.pdf
 
 
 How Java’s Floating-Point Hurts Everyone Everywhere
 July 30, 2004 6:28 pm Work in Progress Subject to Supersession Page 3
 Abstract:
 Java’s floating-point arithmetic is blighted by
five
 gratuitous mistakes:
 1.
 Linguistically legislated exact reproducibility is at best mere wishful thinking.
 2.
 Of two traditional policies for mixed precision evaluation, Java chose the worse.
 3.
 Infinities and NaNs unleashed without the protection of floating-point traps and flagsmandated by IEEE Standards 754/854 belie Java’s claim to robustness.
 4.
 Every programmer’s prospects for success are diminished by Java’s refusal to grant accessto capabilities built into over 95% of today's floating-point hardware.
 5.
 Java has rejected even mildly disciplined infix operator overloading, without which extensionsto arithmetic with everyday mathematical types like complex numbers, intervals, matrices,geometrical objects and arbitrarily high precision become extremely inconvenient.
 To leave these mistakes uncorrected would be a tragic
sixth
 mistake.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
 The following pages expand upon material presented on Sunday morning 1 March 1998 partly torebut Dr. James Gosling’s keynote address “Extensions to Java for Numerical Computation” theprevious morning (Sat. 28 Feb.); see his
http://java.sun.com/people/jag/FP.html
 .For a better idea of what is in store for us in the future unless we can change it, see 
http://www.sun.com/smi/Press/sunflash/9803/sunflash.980324.17.html
 and 
http://math.nist.gov/javanumerics/issues.html#LanguageFeatures
 .

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