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Re: sum question

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  • Subject: [mg91210] Re: sum question
  • From: Bill Rowe <readnews at>
  • Date: Sat, 9 Aug 2008 07:47:43 -0400 (EDT)

On 8/8/08 at 7:14 AM, philip-kopp at (Kopp, Philip F) wrote:

>Hi, I am trying to work with a rather large sum(>200 terms)  in
>Mathematica , but the program displays some odd behavior. When I
>multiply each term in the sum by 1, I get 1 for the answer.  When I
>change 1 to 1.0, I get an incredibly large number for the answer.
>There seems to be some problem with using decimal numbers in this
>large sum. I tried Rationalize[1.0], and it works.  What I am really
>trying to do is multiply each term by a different number(all less
>than one) that I calculated in another program.  These numbers are
>in decimal form, so I run into the same problem.  When I try
>rationalize here, it doen't fix the problem.

Your description above suggests the issue is due to numeric
issues that arise when using machine precision numbers. I would
guess the terms in you sum likely involve say differences of two
nearly equal things where or some similar operation that will be
very sensitive o round off issues.

Your description indicates a solution. That is using exact
arithmetic. The file of decimal numbers can be converted to
exact numbers using Rationalize. Of course the cost of doing
this will be an overall decrease in execution speed.

If you need more specific suggestions, you will have to provide
more detail such as example data and the Mathematica code you
are currently using.

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