A reimplementation of MaskedArray

Paul Dubois pfdubois at gmail.com
Thu Nov 9 17:00:18 CST 2006


Disappointed in NaN land?

Since the function of old retired persons is to tell youngsters stories
around the campfile:

A supercomputer hardware designer told me that when forced to add IEEE
arithmetic to his designs that it decreased performance substantially, maybe
25-30%; it wasn't that doing the operations took so much longer, it was that
the increased physical space needed for that circuitry pushed the memory
farther away. Doubtless this inspired doing some of it in software instead.

No standard for controlling the behaviors exists, either, so you can find
out the hard way that underflow-to-zero is being done in software by
default, and that you are doing a lot of it. Or that your code doesn't have
the same behavior on different platforms.

To my mind, all that was really accomplished was to convince said youngsters
that somehow this NaN stuff was the solution to some problem. In reality,
computing for 3 days and having it print out 1000 NaNs is not exactly
satisfying. I think this stuff was essentially a mistake in the sense that
it is a nice ivory-tower idea that costs more in practice than it is worth.
I do not think a properly thought-out and coded algorithm ought to do
anything that this stuff is supposed to 'help' with, and if it does do it,
the code should stop executing.

Anyway, if I thought it would do the job I wouldn't have written MA in the
first place.

Rant off. Nap. Grumble. Stupid kids. (:->
-- Paul
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