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 newgoat 03-11-2006 06:22 AM

representational error in C

Hello,

I wrote two program to test the inherent problem binary system has
with representing floating points values. Adding 0.1 to itself 1000
times results in a number slightly larger than 100. But to my surprise,
adding it to itself 100000 times results in a number smaller than
10000.
Can anybody tell me why? Thanks!

#include <stdio.h>

int main(void){
int add_times1 = 1000;
int add_times2 = 100000;

/* Add 0.1 to itself for 1000 times using float for all data would
result in 100.099045. */
printf("\nAdding 0.1 for 1000 times using float data results in

/* Add 0.1 to itself for 100000 times using float for all data would
result in 9998.6562500000. */
printf("\nAdding 0.1 for 100000 times using float data results in

/* Add 0.1 to itself for 1000 times using float for all data would
result in 100.09999999999858744104. */
printf("\nAdding 0.1 for 1000 times using double data results in

/* Add 0.1 to itself for 100000 times using float for all data would
result in 9998.65625000000000000000. */
printf("\nAdding 0.1 for 100000 times using double data results in

printf("0.1 * 1000 = %lf, 0.1 * 100000 = %lf\n\n", 0.1 * 1000.0, 0.1
* 100000);
return 0;
}

/* Test with float data type */
float sum = 0.0;
int counter = 0;

while(counter <= n){
sum = sum + 0.1;
counter++;
}

return sum;
}

/* Test with double data type */
double sum = 0.0;
int counter = 0;

while(counter <= n){
sum = sum + 0.1;
counter++;
}

return sum;
}

 Walter Roberson 03-11-2006 06:46 AM

Re: representational error in C

In article <1142058147.239917.291760@j52g2000cwj.googlegroups .com>,
newgoat <newgoat@gmail.com> wrote:
>I wrote two program to test the inherent problem binary system has
>with representing floating points values. Adding 0.1 to itself 1000
>times results in a number slightly larger than 100. But to my surprise,
>adding it to itself 100000 times results in a number smaller than
>10000.
>Can anybody tell me why? Thanks!

The code you included does not appear to contain anything
specific to C99. If you are using C89 (likely because true C99
is still fairly uncommon), then some of the details of floating
point implementation are not nailed down, and are thus implementation
dependant.

The exact answers produced by the code you provided would
depend upon the rounding behaviour in effect. There are
a few common -different- rounding behaviours (and probably some
obscure ones along the way). C89 does not provide any mechanism
to query or control rounding behaviours (but your OS might.)

One of the recommended rounding behaviours alternates
between rounding up and rounding down, in a deliberate attempt
to reduce accumulation of round-off errors.

My guess, though, is that your system is probably not using
decimal arithmetic, and is instead using a binary floating
point representation. The representation of 100000 probably
does not start with the same binary expansion as 100 does.
This could result in the least-significant bit being
"crowded off the end" as you accumulated values: if that
least significant bit was the difference between underflow of
100000 and overflow of that value, then Yes, the effect
you saw could definitely happen.
--
"It is important to remember that when it comes to law, computers
never make copies, only human beings make copies. Computers are given
commands, not permission. Only people can be given permission."

 Me 03-11-2006 09:55 AM

Re: representational error in C

newgoat wrote:
> Hello,
>
> I wrote two program to test the inherent problem binary system has
> with representing floating points values. Adding 0.1 to itself 1000
> times results in a number slightly larger than 100. But to my surprise,
> adding it to itself 100000 times results in a number smaller than
> 10000.
> Can anybody tell me why? Thanks!

Floats work like this (using whole numbers for niceness):

(use a fixed width font for this)
***** * * * * * * * * * ... *
01234 6 8 10121416 20 24 28 64

What I tried to represent here is that there are "goal posts" at
2**(2n) [note: this is not what C does]

0 == 0
4 == 2**2
16 = 2**4
64 = 2**6
256 = 2**8
....

where the distance between 0-4 is 1 unit, 4-16 is 2 units, 16-64 is 4
units, 64-256 is 8 units, etc. With the C standard, these "goal posts"
are actually powers of FLT_RADIX.

(I'm going to assume your computer uses IEEE-754 floats, so FLT_RADIX
== 2) The problem with your example is that 0.1 isn't a power of
FLT_RADIX (i.e. it's not one of the goal posts, it's a number between
the two goal posts).

There are three issues here:

a. 0.1 isn't exactly representable. The standard doesn't say what to do
in this case but odds are, your compiler will round it to the nearest
number. In our whole number example, it would be like what do to when
given number 18.

b. 0.1 isn't a goal post. Goal posts are good. If we start from 0, we
can keep adding by goal posts up to some number *exactly*. Our whole
number example: 0 to 16 by adding 2, 0 to 64 by adding 4.

c. If a number isn't exactly representable, the C standard doesn't say
what to do. Most machines will round to nearest. For our whole number
machine, lets use round to rand to approximate round to nearest because
our whole number machine has a very small range compared to real floats
to save typing.

So with all this in mind lets replace 0.1 with 3.5 and 1000 with 4

So 3.5 can either be 3 or 4. Lets pick 3.

0+3 = 7, lets round to 6
6+3 = 9, lets round to 10
10+3 = 13, lets round to 14
14+3 = 17, lets round to 16

3.5 * 4 == 14 but because of all the rounding that took place, we got
16.

If your computer was a (non-existant?) one that has FLT_RADIX == 10,
this would have worked. Since IEEE-754/FLT_RADIX==2 floats are pretty
much a defacto standard for C (and have desirable numerical
properties), there is a proposal to add a separate decimal float type
to C which would have ran your example with no surprises.

> #include <stdio.h>
>
>
> int main(void){
> int add_times1 = 1000;
> int add_times2 = 100000;
>
> /* Add 0.1 to itself for 1000 times using float for all data would
> result in 100.099045. */
> printf("\nAdding 0.1 for 1000 times using float data results in

p.s. .9 is enough for IEEE float (see
http://www.open-std.org/jtc1/sc22/wg...2005/n1822.pdf for
explanation)

> /* Add 0.1 to itself for 100000 times using float for all data would
> result in 9998.6562500000. */
> printf("\nAdding 0.1 for 100000 times using float data results in
>
>
>
> /* Add 0.1 to itself for 1000 times using float for all data would
> result in 100.09999999999858744104. */
> printf("\nAdding 0.1 for 1000 times using double data results in

p.s. .17 is enough for IEEE double

> /* Add 0.1 to itself for 100000 times using float for all data would
> result in 9998.65625000000000000000. */
> printf("\nAdding 0.1 for 100000 times using double data results in
>
> printf("0.1 * 1000 = %lf, 0.1 * 100000 = %lf\n\n", 0.1 * 1000.0, 0.1
> * 100000);
> return 0;
> }
>
> /* Test with float data type */
> float add_dimes_fversion(int n){
> float sum = 0.0;
> int counter = 0;
>
> while(counter <= n){
> sum = sum + 0.1;

Note: 0.1 is a double literal. To get a float literal use 0.1f. What
you're code does here is:
sum = (double)sum + 0.1;
The standard allows a compiler to do this with float literals but using
a double literal forces it to happen when it might not happen
otherwise.

> counter++;
> }
>
> return sum;
> }
>
> /* Test with double data type */
> double add_dimes_dversion(int n){
> double sum = 0.0;
> int counter = 0;
>
> while(counter <= n){
> sum = sum + 0.1;
> counter++;
> }
>
> return sum;
> }

 Michael Mair 03-11-2006 02:20 PM

Re: representational error in C

newgoat schrieb:
> Hello,
>
> I wrote two program to test the inherent problem binary system has
> with representing floating points values. Adding 0.1 to itself 1000
> times results in a number slightly larger than 100. But to my surprise,
> adding it to itself 100000 times results in a number smaller than
> 10000.
> Can anybody tell me why? Thanks!

<snip!>
> /* Test with float data type */
> float add_dimes_fversion(int n){
> float sum = 0.0;
> int counter = 0;
>
> while(counter <= n){
> sum = sum + 0.1;
> counter++;
> }
>
> return sum;
> }

For one thing, you are working with 1001 and 100001 summands,
respectively; assuming 0.1F*10 < 1, this is not as surprising
as it seems: Let us, for a moment, assume that 0.1F was equal
to 0.09991 in the real world; even if we have no rounding errors,
0.09991*1001 = 99.91+0.0991 = 100.0091 and
0.09991*1000001 = 99910+0.0991 = 99910.0991

Apart from that, the other replies explain most.
Have a look at
http://docs.sun.com/source/806-3568/ncg_goldberg.html
if you are interested in more information.

Cheers
Michael
--
E-Mail: Mine is an /at/ gmx /dot/ de address.

 Walter Roberson 03-11-2006 04:28 PM

Re: representational error in C

In article <1142070912.506944.193380@e56g2000cwe.googlegroups .com>,
Me <anti_spam_email2003@yahoo.com> wrote:
>(I'm going to assume your computer uses IEEE-754 floats, so FLT_RADIX
>== 2)

>Since IEEE-754/FLT_RADIX==2 floats are pretty
>much a defacto standard for C

There are quite a few widespread IEEE-754 systems that use FLT_RADIX=16
or FLT_RADIX=4, so I would say that FLT_RADIX=2 is *not* a defacto
standard for C.

--
"law -- it's a commodity"
-- Andrew Ryan (The Globe and Mail, 2005/11/26)

 Chris Torek 03-11-2006 05:54 PM

Re: representational error in C

In article <duuts1\$ent\$1@canopus.cc.umanitoba.ca>
Walter Roberson <roberson@ibd.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca> wrote:
>There are quite a few widespread IEEE-754 systems that use FLT_RADIX=16
>or FLT_RADIX=4, so I would say that FLT_RADIX=2 is *not* a defacto
>standard for C.

Just out of curiosity: I know IBM S/370 (and S/360) architecture
uses 16 ("hex float"); but who uses 4? (And: Why? 4 would lose
the implied-1 advantage of base 2, and add the jitter seen in hex
float, yet not increase the exponent range significantly as 16
does.)
--
In-Real-Life: Chris Torek, Wind River Systems
Salt Lake City, UT, USA (40°39.22'N, 111°50.29'W) +1 801 277 2603
email: forget about it http://web.torek.net/torek/index.html
Reading email is like searching for food in the garbage, thanks to spammers.

 Joe Wright 03-11-2006 05:58 PM

Re: representational error in C

Walter Roberson wrote:
> In article <1142070912.506944.193380@e56g2000cwe.googlegroups .com>,
> Me <anti_spam_email2003@yahoo.com> wrote:
>> (I'm going to assume your computer uses IEEE-754 floats, so FLT_RADIX
>> == 2)

>
>> Since IEEE-754/FLT_RADIX==2 floats are pretty
>> much a defacto standard for C

>
> There are quite a few widespread IEEE-754 systems that use FLT_RADIX=16
> or FLT_RADIX=4, so I would say that FLT_RADIX=2 is *not* a defacto
> standard for C.
>

By 'quite a few' you mean presumably more than two. Can you name them
for us please? Thanks.

--
Joe Wright
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
--- Albert Einstein ---

 Ben Pfaff 03-11-2006 06:30 PM

Re: representational error in C

roberson@ibd.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca (Walter Roberson) writes:

> There are quite a few widespread IEEE-754 systems that use FLT_RADIX=16
> or FLT_RADIX=4, so I would say that FLT_RADIX=2 is *not* a defacto
> standard for C.

I was under the impression that IEEE 754 was a binary floating
point standard, i.e. FLT_RADIX=2. Why would an IEEE 754 system
claim FLT_RADIX of 4 or 16?
--
"Some programming practices beg for errors;
this one is like calling an 800 number
and having errors delivered to your door."
--Steve McConnell

 Jordan Abel 03-11-2006 07:42 PM

Re: representational error in C

On 2006-03-11, Walter Roberson <roberson@ibd.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca> wrote:
> In article <1142070912.506944.193380@e56g2000cwe.googlegroups .com>,
> Me <anti_spam_email2003@yahoo.com> wrote:
>>(I'm going to assume your computer uses IEEE-754 floats, so FLT_RADIX
>>== 2)

>
>>Since IEEE-754/FLT_RADIX==2 floats are pretty
>>much a defacto standard for C

>
> There are quite a few widespread IEEE-754 systems that use FLT_RADIX=16
> or FLT_RADIX=4, so I would say that FLT_RADIX=2 is *not* a defacto
> standard for C.

Just because some systems deviate from it doesn't mean it's not a de
facto standard. [Is this really IEEE 754? I thought "IEEE 754" meant a
system matching the 'ideal' of the Intel 387, which, i've read, is what
the IEEE standard is based on.]

 jacob navia 03-11-2006 10:08 PM

Re: representational error in C

Michael Mair a écrit :
> newgoat schrieb:
>
>> Hello,
>>
>> I wrote two program to test the inherent problem binary system has
>> with representing floating points values. Adding 0.1 to itself 1000
>> times results in a number slightly larger than 100. But to my surprise,
>> adding it to itself 100000 times results in a number smaller than
>> 10000.
>> Can anybody tell me why? Thanks!

>
> <snip!>
> > /* Test with float data type */
> > float add_dimes_fversion(int n){
> > float sum = 0.0;
> > int counter = 0;
> >
> > while(counter <= n){
> > sum = sum + 0.1;
> > counter++;
> > }
> >
> > return sum;
> > }

>
> For one thing, you are working with 1001 and 100001 summands,
> respectively; assuming 0.1F*10 < 1, this is not as surprising
> as it seems: Let us, for a moment, assume that 0.1F was equal
> to 0.09991 in the real world; even if we have no rounding errors,
> 0.09991*1001 = 99.91+0.0991 = 100.0091 and
> 0.09991*1000001 = 99910+0.0991 = 99910.0991
>
> Apart from that, the other replies explain most.
> Have a look at
> http://docs.sun.com/source/806-3568/ncg_goldberg.html
> if you are interested in more information.
>
> Cheers
> Michael

Michael, you have a GREAT EYE!!!!!!!!!!

How EASY is to oversee the dammed <= in that program. I wondered
and wondered... WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON... ?????

jacob

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