# [Numpy-discussion] abs for max negative integers - desired behavior?

David Cournapeau cournape@gmail....
Wed Oct 12 07:31:53 CDT 2011

```On 10/12/11, "V. Armando Solé" <sole@esrf.fr> wrote:
> On 12/10/2011 10:46, David Cournapeau wrote:
>> On Wed, Oct 12, 2011 at 9:18 AM, "V. Armando Solé" wrote:
>>>   From a pure user perspective, I would not expect the abs function to
>>> return a negative number. Returning +127 plus a warning the first time
>>> that happens seems to me a good compromise.
>> I guess the question is what's the common context to use small
>> integers in the first place. If it is to save memory, then upcasting
>> may not be the best solution. I may be wrong, but if you decide to use
>> those types in the first place, you need to know about overflows. Abs
>> is just one of them (dividing by -1 is another, although this one
>> actually raises an exception).
>>
>> Detecting it may be costly, but this would need benchmarking.
>>
>> That being said, without context, I don't find 127 a better solution than
>> -128.
>
> Well that choice is just based on getting the closest positive number to
> the true value (128). The context can be anything, for instance you
> could be using a look up table based on the result of an integer
> operation ...
>
> In terms of cost, it would imply to evaluate the cost of something like:
>
> a = abs(x);
>   if (a < 0) {a -= MIN_INT;}
> return a;

Yes, this is costly: it adds a branch to a trivial operation. I did
some preliminary benchmarks (would need confirmation when I have more
than one minute to spend on this):

int8, 2**16 long array. Before check: 16 us. After check: 92 us. 5-6
times slower
int8, 2**24 long array. Before check: 20ms. After check: 30ms. 30 % slower.

There is also the issue of signaling the error in the ufunc machinery.
I forgot whether this is possible at that level.

cheers,

David
```