PEP239 (Rational Numbers) Reference Implementation and new issues

python-pep at python-pep at
Thu Oct 3 00:11:41 CEST 2002

I just uploaded a reference implementation of how rationals might look
in Python as patch 617779 [1].  I do have some new issues for
discussion that I'd like to get some comments on before I change the

1) Should future division return rationals rather than floats.  I had
sort of assumed this would happen, but I just had a discussion with
Kirby Urner and couldn't convince him it was a good idea, so I guess
it isn't so clear.

   Arguments for:
     - you don't lose precision on divides
     - It provides a really nice way to specify rationals (i.e. 1/3)
     - It allows you to eventually unify int/long/rationals so that
       rationals with a denominator of 1 are automagically upcast.

   Arguments against:
     - people who have already changed their code to expect floats will
       have to change it again 
     - rationals are slow

2) Should floats compare equal with rationals only when they are
equal, or whenever the are the closest float?  (i.e. will .2 
compare equal to rational(1, 5))

3) Should rationals try to hash the same as floats?  My leaning on
this is that it will be decided by (2).  If they compare equal when
'close enough' then they should hash the same, if not then they should
only hash the same when both are integral.  I would rather not see .5
hash with rational(1, 2) but not .2 with rational(1, 5).


Christopher A. Craig <python-pep at>
"[Windows NT is] not about 'Where do you want to go today?'; it's more like
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