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Author tim.peters
Recipients Jeffrey.Kintscher, mark.dickinson, pablogsal, rhettinger, tim.peters, veky
Date 2020-08-06.20:34:34
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See "wisdom" earlier ;-) It's ad hoc trickery that seemingly can't be explained without showing the precise implementation in use today. As already mentioned, frexp() trickery _can_ be explained: exactly what you'd get if left-to-right HW multiplication were performed with an unbounded exponent, over- and under-flowing if and only if the infinite precision exponent at the end "doesn't fit". It completely eliminates spurious over-/under-flow. If someone wants that, it would be suitable for an fprod() function (which, like fsum(), makes strong guarantees at real cost).

Precisely which cases does this other thing protect against? Is there any way to characterize them beyond "well, try it and see"?

If there's an actual problem here, doesn't it deserve to be fixed? Just making it "less common" in some unquantifiable, unexplainable way seems unprincipled, and _possibly_ even harmful (e.g., by making it harder to provoke the underlying still-there problem without white box adversarial testing).

> Presumably that is why numpy uses pairwise summation instead of
> straight addition for example.

Loss of precision in fp summation is an extremely common real-life problem with real-life consequences.  That's why you can find dozens of papers, over the decades, on schemes to improve that. Adding a vector of a million floats is common; multiplying a vector of even a hundred floats is rare.

Similarly, scaled hypot implementations have been re-invented dozens of times. Etc.  When there's "a real" problem in fp life, it's hard _not_ to find mounds of prior art trying to address it.

You can find a few pieces on avoiding spurious under-/over-flow when chaining multiplies and divides, primarily older papers talking about 32-bit float formats with very limited dynamic range. The common advice: rearrange the handful of inputs in the source code by hand, based on your application knowledge of their likely magnitudes, to make left-to-right evaluation "safe".
Date User Action Args
2020-08-06 20:34:35tim.peterssetrecipients: + tim.peters, rhettinger, mark.dickinson, veky, pablogsal, Jeffrey.Kintscher
2020-08-06 20:34:35tim.peterssetmessageid: <>
2020-08-06 20:34:35tim.peterslinkissue41458 messages
2020-08-06 20:34:34tim.peterscreate