PyWart: Language missing maximum constant of numeric types!

Michael Torrie torriem at gmail.com
Fri Feb 24 17:23:08 CET 2012


On 02/24/2012 08:34 AM, Rick Johnson wrote:
> Yes i could write my own implementation of INFINITY if i wanted,
> although i would have returned True and False as apposed to 1 and 0
> AND used the identifiers Infinity and Infinitesimal, but i digress :-
> P.
> 
> However, INFINITY is something i believe a language should provide;
> which python does, albeit inconsistently.

How do you represent infinity as an binary integer number?  Or are you
suggesting that the integer type (class) be modified to allow an
"infinity" state that really isn't a number at all (could not be stored
as a integer in C)?

Float is a different story because IEEE does define a binary
representation of infinity in the floating-point specification.

I know of no language that has any form of representation of infinity
for integers mainly because there's no way to represent infinity as a
standard twos-compliment binary number.  In a language that deals
directly with types in memory such as C, having an infinity
representation would be possible but would make simple math really hard,
and much slower.

All this reminds me of the original cray supercomputers.  They didn't
use twos compliment for integers so they had two representations of zero
(+0 and -0).  Made programming a bit tricky.  When asked why the cray
didn't just do two's compliment like everyone else, Seymour Cray
responded that when the computer was designed he simply didn't know
about twos compliment.



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