Python 3.0 new integer division

Mark Dickinson dickinsm at
Wed Apr 9 22:27:33 CEST 2008

On Apr 9, 3:57 pm, Arnaud Delobelle <arno... at> wrote:
> Naive question: why not just use a long + an exponent?
> e.g. 132560  -> (13256, 1)
>      0.534   -> (534, -3)
>      5.23e10 -> (523, 8)

It's a good question.  The standard answer is that if the
coefficient is a long then it's awkward to get at individual
digits;  looking up a digit becomes an O(n^2) operation
(involving a division and a remainder) instead of the O(1)
that it should be.  And you need access to the digits for
rounding operations, which are pretty darn common (one
round at the end of each arithmetic operation, as a rule).

But I could easily be convinced that storing the coefficient
as a long speeds things up for the usual use cases, even if
it gives horrible asymptotics for those trying to do really
high-precision calculations.  And it would certainly make
the code slightly simpler in places.

It would be great if someone could try converting Decimal
so that the coefficient is stored as a long, to see if there's
any noticeable impact on speed one way or the other.  It
wouldn't be such a hard change:  a few hours of work at most.
It's on my todo list to try this, but so far down that it's
not looking like it'll end up at the top of the list before
Christmas 20??.


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