Repair to floating point enumerations?
Mitchell, Neil
neil.mitchell.2 at credit-suisse.com
Wed Oct 15 06:25:38 EDT 2008
Hi Malcolm,
The current behaviour does sound like a bug, and the revised behaviour
does sound like a fix - and one that has a sensible explanation if
people trip over it. In general having floating point be a member of
classes such as Eq has some obvious problems, but I realise is a
necessity for practical programming. Given that we have Eq Double, then
Enum Double seems no worse.
If we don't alter H98 then a valid program under H98 vs H' will give
different results without any warning - that seems really bad. In
addition, having two instances around for one typeclass/type pair in a
big library (base) which are switched with some flag seems like a
nightmare for compiler writers. So I think a good solution would be to
fix H98 as a typo, and include it in H'.
Thanks
Neil
> -----Original Message-----
> From: libraries-bounces at haskell.org
> [mailto:libraries-bounces at haskell.org] On Behalf Of Malcolm Wallace
> Sent: 15 October 2008 10:41 am
> To: haskell-prime at haskell.org
> Cc: libraries at haskell.org
> Subject: Repair to floating point enumerations?
>
> Dear Haskell-Primers (and libraries).
>
> Recently, Phil Wadler has pointed out a weird anomaly in the
> Haskell'98 Prelude, regarding numeric enumerations for Floats/Doubles:
>
> Prelude> [0, 0.3 .. 1.1]
> [0.0,0.3,0.6,0.899999,1.2]
>
> What is odd is that the last value of the list is much larger
> than the specified termination value. But this is exactly as
> specified by the
> Haskell'98 Report.
>
> http://haskell.org/onlinereport/basic.html#sect6.3.4
>
> "For Float and Double, the semantics of the enumFrom
> family is given
> by the rules for Int above, except that the list
> terminates when the
> elements become greater than e3+i/2 for positive increment i, or
> when they become less than e3+i/2 for negative i.
>
> We have discussed this question (and related ones, such as
> whether Float and Double belong in the Enum class at all)
> several times before, and I do not wish to rehash all of
> those points again e.g.:
>
> http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~dons/haskell-1990-2000/msg07289.html
> http://www.haskell.org/pipermail/haskell/2001-October/008218.html
> http://www.haskell.org/pipermail/haskell/2002-October/010607.html
>
> Phil proposes that, although retaining the instances of Enum
> for Float and Double, we simplify the definitions of the
> numericEnumFrom family:
>
> numericEnumFromThenTo :: (Fractional a, Ord a) => a -> a
> -> a -> [a]
> numericEnumFrom = iterate (+1)
> numericEnumFromThen n m = iterate (+(m-n)) n
> numericEnumFromTo n m = takeWhile (<= m) (numericEnumFrom n)
> numericEnumFromThenTo n m p = takeWhile (<= p)
> (numericEnumFromThen n m)
>
> The particular feature of note is that the odd fudge factor
> of (1/2 * the increment) is removed. The inexact nature of
> floating point numbers would therefore cause a specification like
>
> [ 0.0, 0.1 .. 0.3 ]
>
> to yield the sequence
>
> [ 0.0, 0.1, 0.2 ]
>
> that is, to omit the upper bound, because (3 * 0.1) is
> actually represented as 0.30000000000004, strictly greater than 0.3.
>
> Phil argues that this behaviour is more desirable: "the
> simple fix is that the user must add a suitable epsilon to
> the upper bound. The key word here is *suitable*. The old
> definitions included completely bizarre and often highly
> unsuitable choices of epsilon."
>
> This proposal seems to me to improve the consistency of the
> enumeration syntax across both the integral and floating
> types. Some users may still be surprised, but the surprise
> will be easier to explain.
>
> I am bringing this question to the attention of all who are
> interested in Haskell Prime, because it seems like a sensible
> and well-reasoned change. Discussion on whether to adopt
> this proposal for H' is welcome.
>
> But as maintainer and bug-fixer of the Haskell'98 Report, I
> have also been asked whether we should make this change
> retrospectively to the
> Haskell'98 language (as a "typo"). Since it involves not
> merely an ordinary library function, but a Prelude function,
> and moreover a function that is used in the desugaring of
> syntax, it is less clear to me whether to alter Haskell'98.
>
> Thoughts?
>
> Regards,
> Malcolm
> _______________________________________________
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>
>
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