Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How come my numbers are only accurate to 16 digits?

Any apfloat constructed from a double will probably be accurate to only approximately 16 decimal digits, no matter what you specify as the precision. For example, when you run this example program:
#include <iostream>
#include "apfloat.h"

using namespace std;

int main(int argc, char *argv[])
    apfloat a = 2.0,
            b = 1.0,
            c = 0.5,
            d = 1e-13;

    cout << pretty << a << endl;
    cout << pretty << b << endl;
    cout << pretty << c << endl;
    cout << pretty << d << endl;

    return 0;
You might get an output like:
In fact, any of the three first lines output can be "incorrect", and the last line output is almost certainly "incorrect".

Why this happens is because numbers like 1e-13 can't be presented exactly in radix-2, which is the radix used by double type of numbers. When the double (e.g. 1e-13) is converted to radix-10, the result is not exactly the same as the original number. Thus any apfloat constructed from a double might not be correct to more than about 16 digits (in radix-10), the accuracy of a double.

Furthermore, it's important to realize that this applies to apfloats constructed from any double, even if the double could be presented exactly in radix-2 (like 0.5). This is because of performance reasons. The apfloat constructor accepting a double doesn't consider special cases like this, and it simply can always produce a number with a relative error of about 10-16. Also, if the radix used by apfloat is not 10, then a number like 0.5 might not be possible to present exactly anyway (for example, in radix-7, 1/2 is 0.333...). Also, the internal representation of doubles is completely dependent on the computer platform and compiler used (nothing guarantees that e.g. IEEE formats are used), so any attempt to e.g. handle a number like 0.5 accurately for radix-10 would probably still be futile.

The obvious workaround is to use the constructor taking a string, which guarantees that the digits your number will have are exactly the same ones that you specify. For example:

apfloat x("0.5", 1000);

My compiler doesn't seem to find headers like <iostream> or <sstream>

Some really old compilers don't support the new headers. At least Borland C++ 5.0x and gcc 2.8.x (and earlier versions) do not support the new Standard Template Library.

Note that the headers were changed from the "old style" to the "new style" in apfloat v. 2.40. You can still use apfloat v. 2.35 if you have a compiler that doesn't support the STL.

I get an error about a wrong declaration of 'int truncate(const char*, long int)'

The truncate() function is not a standard C library function so the declaration varies from one platform to another (if it exists at all). For example, with cygwin you may need to modify the file ap.h and change the truncate() function declaration to:

int truncate (const char *filename, long long size);

Known problems with gcc

The x86 optimized versions of apfloat don't seem to work with many gcc versions. These problems generally exist with both Linux gcc and MS-DOS djgpp. You can see the version of gcc (or g++) you are using with the command gcc -v.

Often, many of the gcc versions early in a branch (like 3.0.0 or 3.0.1) have bugs that prevent using them with apfloat. The latest versions in a branch (like 2.95.3 or 3.2.3) usually work much better.

Can't compile apfloat

With djgpp or gcc (or g++) and the x86 specific packages of apfloat the compilation may fail sometimes, depending on which version of gcc you use and which apfloat package you use (486, Pentium etc.).

With other compilers you often can get the compiler to crash with an internal error.

Try reducing or removing the optimization options from the OPTS parameter in the makefile. For djgpp/gcc you minimally need only "OPTS = -w" to compile apfloat; however this results in quite unoptimized code. It should be most robust, though (no optimization is done, only all compilation warning messages are disabled). You can try to compile manually some of the apfloat source files with heavier optimization options and see at which point your program stops working. With gcc a good starting point is to try -O2 instead of -O3.

See also the "Known problems with gcc" section.

The compiled executable crashes

Similarly as with failing to compile at all, the problem is often with the optimization settings. Try reducing the compiler optimization as described in the previous question.

Some versions of various compilers and operating systems are apparently buggy and this may actually cause your program to crash. Some instability is known to exist e.g. with the Linux kernel version 2.0.0 and various versions of the gcc / djgpp compilers. See the "Known problems with gcc" section.

Can't compile the WFTA files

The default make command ("make all") doesn't build the WFTA test executables. You can use the command "make allwfta" to build also the WFTA executables.

The WFTA executables compile and work properly only with the 32-bit versions of apfloat (possibly only those which are based on the Intel x86 platform).

The WFTA is not used at all in the apfloat library, it was an early experiment and it is not really supported anymore. Experiment at your own risk.

Last updated: May 6th, 2004

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