Strength in Numbers: Unums and the Quest for Reliable Arithmetic

September 28, 2017 · 1 minute read
Tags: Software Development, Unums

A talk by Ferris Ellis at Strange Loop 2017.

Abstract

In the land of computer arithmetic, a tyrant has ruled since its very beginning: the floating point number. Under its rule we have all endured countless hardships and cruelties. To this very day the floating point number still denies 0.1 + 0.2 == 0.3 and returns insidious infinities to software developers everywhere. But a new hero has entered fray: the universal number (unum). Can it topple the float number system and its century long reign?

This talk will introduce unums, explain their benefits over floating point numbers, and examine multiple real world examples comparing the two. For those not familiar with floating point numbers and their pitfalls, this talk also includes a primer on the topic. Code examples are in Rust, though strong knowledge of the language is not needed.

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