[Python-Dev] One more dict trick

Tim Peters tim.one@home.com
Thu, 31 May 2001 21:32:30 -0400

Heh.  I was implementing 128-bit floats in software, for Cray, in about
1980.  They didn't do it because they *wanted* to make the Cray boxes look
like pigs <wink>.  A 128-bit float type is simply necessary for some
scientific work:  not all problems are well-conditioned, and the "extra"
bits can vanish fast.  Went thru the same bit at KSR.  Just yesterday Konrad
Hinsen was worrying on c.l.py that his scripts that took 2 hours using
native floats zoomed to 5 days when he started using GMP's
arbitrary-precision float type *just* to get 100 bits of precision.

When KSR died, the KSR-3 on the drawing board had 128-bit registers.  I was
never quite sure why the founders thought that would be a killer selling
point, but it wasn't for floats.  Down in the trenches we thought it would
be mondo cool to have an address space so large that for the rest of our
lives we'd never need to bother calling free() again <0.8 wink>.