Turn off ZeroDivisionError?

Christian Heimes lists at cheimes.de
Sun Feb 10 23:34:51 CET 2008

Grant Edwards wrote:
> You must have gone to a different school than I did.  I learned
> that for IEEE floating point operations a/0. is INF with the
> same sign as a (except when a==0, then you get a NaN).

I'm not talking about CS and IEEE floating point ops. I was referring to
plain good old math. Python targets both newbies and professionals.
That's the reason for two math modules (math and cmath).

> That's certainly what I expected after being told that Python
> doesn't do anything special with floating point operations and
> leaves it all up to the underlying hardware. Quoting from the
> page to linked to, it's also what the IEEE standard specifies:
>    The IEEE floating-point standard, supported by almost all
>    modern processors, specifies that every floating point
>    arithmetic operation, including division by zero, has a
>    well-defined result. In IEEE 754 arithmetic, a/0 is positive
>    infinity when a is positive, negative infinity when a is
>    negative, and NaN (not a number) when a = 0.
> I was caught completely off guard when I discovered that Python
> goes out of its way to violate that standard, and it resulted
> in my program not working correctly.

Python's a/0 outcome doesn't violate the standards because Python
doesn't promise to follow the IEEE 754 standard in the first place. Mark
and I are working hard to make math in Python more reliable across
platforms. So far we have fixed a lot of problems but we haven't
discussed the a/0 matter.

The best we could give you is an option that makes Python's floats more
IEEE 754 like:

>>> from somemodule import ieee754
>>> with ieee754:
...    r = a/0
...    print r


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