[Numpy-discussion] numerical noise for simple calcululations

dmitrey dmitrey.kroshko@scipy....
Sun Feb 10 13:23:47 CST 2008

I need just a single number "in avarage".
I have committed some changes to NLP/NSP ralg solver from 
scikits.openopt, for non-noisy funcs it works better, but for noisy 
funcs vise versa, hence now my examples/nssolveVSfsolve.py doesn't work 
as it should be, so I need to implement "noise" parameter and assing a 
default value to the one.

So, the question is: what default value should be here? I was thinking 
of either 0 or something like K*numpy.machine_precesion, where K is 
something like 1...10...100.
Regards, D.

Timothy Hochberg wrote:
> On Sun, Feb 10, 2008 at 4:23 AM, dmitrey <dmitrey.kroshko@scipy.org 
> <mailto:dmitrey.kroshko@scipy.org>> wrote:
>     hi all,
>     I need a good estimation of noise value for simple calculations.
>     I.e. when I calculate something like sin(15)+cos(80) I get a solution
>     with precision, for example, 1e-11.
>     I guess the precision depends on system arch, isn't it?
>     So what's the best way to estimate the value?
>     I guess here should be something like 10*numpy.machine_precision,
>     isn't it?
> This is a complicated subject, which I'm really not qualified to 
> comment on, but I'm not going to let that stop me. I believe that you 
> want to know how accurate something like the above is given exact 
> inputs. That is a somewhat artificial problem, but I'll answer it to 
> the best of my ability.
> Functions like sin, cos, +, etc can in theory compute there result to 
> within on ULP, or maybe half an ULP (I can't recall exactly). An ULP 
> is a Unit in the Last Place. To explain an ULP, let's pretend that we 
> were using decimal floating point with 3 digits of precision and look 
> at a couple of numbers:
> 1.03e-03  --> 1 ULP = 1e-5
> 3.05e+02 --> 1 ULP = 1
> We're obviously not using decimal floating point, we're using binary 
> floating point, but the basic idea is the same. The result is that the 
> accuracy is going to totally depend on the magnitude of the result. If 
> the result is small, in general the result will be more accurate in an 
> absolute sense, although not generally in a relative sense.
> In practice, this is drastically oversimplified since the inputs are 
> generally of finite accuracy. Different functions will either magnify 
> or shrink the input error depending on both the function and the value 
> of the input. If you can find an easy to read introduction to 
> numerical analysis, it would probably help. Unfortunately, I don't 
> know of a good one to recommend; the text I have is a pretty hard slog.
> To complicate this further, functions don't always compute there 
> results to maximum theoretical accuracy; presumably in the interest of 
> reasonable performance.
> So, in the end the answer is; it depends. In practice the only useful, 
> simple advice I've seen to get a handle on accuracy is to compute 
> results using at least two different precisions and verify that things 
> are converging sensibly. And compare to known results wherever possible.
> -- 
> .  __
> .   |-\
> .
> .  tim.hochberg@ieee.org <mailto:tim.hochberg@ieee.org>
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