Archive for October, 2011

Ease of FatRat construction

October 18, 2011

So, on #perl6 today tried using the numeric literal .3333333333333333333333333333333. (Warning: exact number of 3‘s may not match original example.) By the spec (as I understand it), this is a Num, because a Rat isn’t accurate enough to represent it. (Not that a Num is, mind you!)

And that got me to thinking: What if you really wanted a FatRat, so you actually got that exact number? Well, if you’re using Niecza (the only p6 to implement FatRat so far), the answer is, 10000000000000000000000000000000). IMO, that’s ridiculously awkward.

The spec may imply you can do it with ".3333333333333333333333333333333".FatRat. That at least avoids the problem of counting the zeros, but it’s still on the ugly side. Likewise".3333333333333333333333333333333") is awkward. Still, we should certainly support at least one of these options.

I would like to propose again adding an F suffix to indicate a numeric literal should be a FatRat. I don’t think this is something that can reasonably be done with a postfix operator, because if you treat .3333333333333333333333333333333 like a normal numeric value and then try to FatRat it, you will lose the precision you want.

Just as a quick comparison, here’s a bit of the old endless pi code using the FatRat constructor:

sub unit() { =>, 1),
                     r =>, 1),
                     s =>, 1),
                     t =>, 1)); }

I’m proposing we should be able to write that as

sub unit() { => 1F,
                     r => 0F,
                     s => 0F,
                     t => 1F); }

Much shorter and much clearer. I think that’s a big win.

(Note: I’m in no way particularly attached to the letter “F” for this, that was just the first thing that came to mind.)