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Re: Mathematica 8: first impressions

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  • Subject: [mg114179] Re: Mathematica 8: first impressions
  • From: Daniel Lichtblau <danl at>
  • Date: Fri, 26 Nov 2010 05:28:38 -0500 (EST)

----- Original Message -----
> From: "David Bailey" <dave at>
> [...]
> Indeed, Mathematica seems to have followed the lead of most other
> languages - e.g. Java - where the potential address space has become
> astronomical, but the sizes of integers and reals have remained the
> same. Some years back, this seemed strange to me, but I realised it
> really makes sense - because default 64-bit integers simply waste too
> much space, and are hardly ever necessary. It has also made the
> transition between 32/64 bit software incredibly easy.
> This makes particular sense on the IA64 architecture (as opposed to
> Itanium) because there is no speed penalty for manipulating 32-bit
> integers.
> In Mathematica, where integers change between hardware and software
> implementations, this difference will be almost invisible. I would
> guess
> that a fair proportion of applications that spill into 64-bit
> integers,
> will also spill into even larger sizes.
> David Bailey

Actually I would like to see native support for 64 bit integers e.g. in packed arrays. It will take more memory in the case of small integers, but also improve performance for integer linear and polynomial algebra. I think the improvement would be worth the added memory consumption. Granted, for some purposes this might just be added memory use for no gain.

I'd say the same about quad precision for hardware floating point arithmetic, except it does not appear to be looming on the near term horizon, in terms of general vendor support.

Daniel Lichtblau
Wolfram Research

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