Sunday, 23 October 2016

Learn more on Scala Types : Comparing Floating-Point Numbers : Day 3 Learnings

Comparing Floating-Point Numbers

You need to compare two floating-point numbers, but as in some other programming languages, two floating-point numbers that should be equivalent may not be.

As in Java and many other languages, you solve this problem by creating a method that lets you specify the precision for your comparison. The following “approximately equals” method demonstrates the approach:

def ~=(x: Double, y: Double, precision: Double) = {
   if ((x - y).abs < precision) true else false
}

You can use this method like this:

scala> val a = 0.3
a: Double = 0.3

scala> val b = 0.1 + 0.2
b: Double = 0.30000000000000004

scala> ~=(a, b, 0.0001)
res0: Boolean = true

scala> ~=(b, a, 0.0001)
res1: Boolean = true


When you begin working with floating-point numbers, you quickly learn that 0.1 plus 0.1 is 0.2 :

scala> 0.1 + 0.1
res38: Double = 0.2

But 0.1 plus 0.2 isn’t exactly 0.3 :

scala> 0.1 + 0.2
res37: Double = 0.30000000000000004


This subtle inaccuracy makes comparing two floating-point numbers a real problem:

scala> val a = 0.3
a: Double = 0.3

scala> val b = 0.1 + 0.2
b: Double = 0.30000000000000004

scala> a == b
res0: Boolean = false

As a result, you end up writing your own functions to compare floating-point numbers with a precision (or tolerance).

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