# Re: [R] Integer / floating point question

From: Berwin A Turlach <berwin_at_maths.uwa.edu.au>
Date: Sat, 17 May 2008 01:04:33 +0800

On Fri, 16 May 2008 10:45:43 -0500
Erik Iverson <iverson_at_biostat.wisc.edu> wrote:

[...]
> The help page for '%%' addresses this a bit, but then caveats it with
> 'up to rounding error', which is really my question. Is there ever
> 'rounding error' with 2.0 %% 1 as opposed to 2 %% 1?

I am not in the position to give an authoritative answer, but I think there should be no problem with rounding error in the situation that you describe. At least I hope there is no problem, otherwise I would consider this a serious issue. :)

> >> However, my question is related to R FAQ 7.31, "Why doesn't R
> >> think these numbers are equal?" The first sentence of that FAQ
> >> reads, "The only numbers that can be represented exactly in R's
> >> numeric type are integers and fractions whose denominator is a
> >> power of 2."

Again, I did not write this FAQ answer and cannot give an authoritative answer, but the word "integer" in that answer does not IMHO refer to variables in R that are of integer type; in particular since the answer discusses what kind of numbers "can be represented exactly in R's numeric type". (Perhaps this should actually be plural since there are several numeric types?)

My interpretation is that 2.0 and 2 are both *text constants* that represent the integer 2, and that number is representable in a floating point (and in an integer).

The paper by Goldberg, referenced in FAQ 7.31, contains a discussion on whether it is possible (it is) to convert a floating point number from binary representation to decimal representation and then back; ending up with the same binary representation. This kind of questions are important if you use commands like write.table() or write.csv() which write out floating points in decimal representation, readable to normal humans. When you read the data back in, you want to end up with the exact same binary representation of the numbers. Goldberg is indeed an interesting paper to read.

Cheers,

Berwin

R-help_at_r-project.org mailing list
https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-help PLEASE do read the posting guide http://www.R-project.org/posting-guide.html and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code. Received on Fri 16 May 2008 - 17:58:04 GMT

Archive maintained by Robert King, hosted by the discipline of statistics at the University of Newcastle, Australia.
Archive generated by hypermail 2.2.0, at Fri 16 May 2008 - 20:30:55 GMT.

Mailing list information is available at https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-help. Please read the posting guide before posting to the list.