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IBM developerWorks: Mondo math libs, A look at some of the math libraries for Linux

“Programmers generally fall into two groups when it comes to
using math. One group doesn’t use floating point much, if at all,
and typically needs integers only for the usual mundane purposes
like loop control variables, counters, address arithmetic, and
other simple calculations. This group’s math needs rarely require
the use of anything more exotic than a 32-bit signed integer. They
deal with floating point arithmetic only when necessary. And when
floating point arithmetic cannot be avoided, they tend to head for
the path of least resistance, using whichever FP format is handy or
forced on them. This group includes most system programmers, as
well as non-scientific and non-financial coders.”

“The second group includes the financial, scientific, and
hobbyist programmers who don’t just crunch numbers but mercilessly
grind them until their CPU glows cherry red. They use online
handles like “mantissaMan” and “sqrt-neg-one,” and tell jokes with
scientific notation punch lines. If you’re wondering whether you
are in this second group, you probably aren’t.”

This sort of thinking let me to write about
multiple-precision math (hereafter MPM) libraries. The fact that
there’s a seemingly endless list of implementations of MPM libs
available on the net for Linux makes this topic valuable to both
groups in our little programmer taxonomy.


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