float / double support in Python?

Brandon Van Every vanevery at 3DProgrammer.com
Fri Feb 7 05:11:14 CET 2003

Isaac To wrote:
>>>>>> "Brandon" == Brandon Van Every <vanevery at 3DProgrammer.com>
>>>>>> writes:
>> Um, that's like, absolutely brain-dead to a 3D game
>> developer. Does Numeric Python give you a 4-byte float
>> type?
> The only benefit of 4-byte floats on real computers is that it
> consumes less space.

"Only" benefit??!?  Spoken like a guy who doesn't push millions of triangles
around!  Or use 3D APIs that only understand 4-byte floats.

> Computations done in 4-byte floats are seldom
> faster than those in 8-byte doubles (some computers convert them back
> and forth to 8-byte doubles even for 4-byte floats, so they can even
> be slower).

All CPUs I've written ASM code for are slower at division and square root
when the precision is higher.

> But the benefit of space efficiency is doubtful in
> Python, since every object uses 8 more bytes:

Ok, so Python is a numerical pig.  Good to know.  C++ just got a lot more
case uses.  Python only for when performance does not matter.

> On the other hand, if you have a whole bunch of double's to store,
> look at the array module.  It allows you to store a bit array of
> values, without making each of them an object.  And in that array
> module, you can choose to store 4-byte or 8-byte values.  When you
> actually get values from them, it will wrap up the values to an
> object, so it is slower, but more space efficient.

If the point of switching to Python is to gain ease-of-use, such antics are
not compelling.

Cheers,                         www.3DProgrammer.com
Brandon Van Every               Seattle, WA

20% of the world is real.
80% is gobbledygook we make up inside our own heads.

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