math, bigly

Mark Waddingham mark at
Wed Aug 9 13:29:30 EDT 2017

On 2017-08-09 19:15, Bob Sneidar via use-livecode wrote:
> OIC. I was under the impression that the C math libraries deal with
> numbers of high precision better than Livecode does, perhaps
> themselves generating errors on overflow. Maybe that is not the case.

C itself does no error checking/bounds checking at all. It is only 
relatively recently that compiler intrinsics have been available on all 
platforms we support which would allow an overflow check to be done 
efficiently (access to the carry flag).

Now, that would be fine if we used integers - which we don't - we use 
IEEE doubles.

Of course, the IEEE standard has long had in it the 'exceptions' model 
for detecting overflow/inexactness and such - however using *that* to 
efficiently do anything is nigh-on impossible universally. Performance 
of using the FP exceptions (even non-signalling) is highly variable 
across processor models and OS combinations.

Ideally LiveCode would use decimal arithmetic everywhere from the 
outside at least (with a fixed controllable precision - number of digits 
after the decimal point - for anything 'inexact'), and internally use 
infinite precision integers when there is nothing after the decimal 
point. That's more an engineering problem in terms of ensuring that in 
moving to such a model, performance of numeric operations (in general) 
does not decrease too much (there would be an overhead, its just trying 
to minimise it which causes all the hard work).

Generally C math libraries are infinite precision or nothing - although 
IBM has some nifty IEEE Decimal emulation code out in the wild blending 
that with other numeric representations is still not an easy task.

Warmest Regards,


Mark Waddingham ~ mark at ~
LiveCode: Everyone can create apps

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