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Food for thought: Unums
07-30-2016, 11:29 PM (This post was last modified: 08-01-2016 05:12 PM by matthiaspaul.)
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Food for thought: Unums
Have you heard about ''unums'' (for "universal numbers") already?

This is a new number format and arithmetic environment proposed by John Gustafson since 2013. It is meant to be a superset of or long-term even a replacement for traditional floating point arithmetic as defined in IEEE 754 etc. It claims to address many of the shortcomings of floating point and interval arithmetic in general, while also being better suited for modern and future number crunching hardware (high integration, cheap transistors, parallel cores, but thermal and power limitations). One of the ideas is to use today's technology and progress to provide mathematically better solutions of limited precision with known accuracy, not necessarily more solutions per time or solutions with extreme precision but sometimes still only very limited accuracy.

Unums must be considered a work in progress. There are meanwhile two considerable different proposals, unum I and II. So far, there are a few software emulations (obviously very slow), but no hardware implementations.

The proposal has generated some heated discussions about the pros and cons of the format already (including one between Kahan and Gustafson). While I don't consider unums in their present form to be "the one-and-only solution", I find some of the underlying ideas very interesting and thought-provoking. While I love to push existing technologies to the limits, I also think it is important to reevaluate issues from new perspectives from time to time.

Well, since there are many people in this forum, who are interested in mathematics and computer sciences, some might be interested to learn about unums as well. I have therefore compiled a list of unum resources I am aware of.

What do you think about the unum proposal?



Unum I presentations
Unum II presentations
The Great Debate

"Programs are poems for computers."
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Messages In This Thread
Food for thought: Unums - matthiaspaul - 07-30-2016 11:29 PM
RE: Food for thought: Unums - Vtile - 07-31-2016, 12:39 AM
RE: Food for thought: Unums - Paul Dale - 07-31-2016, 01:32 AM
RE: Food for thought: Unums - cruff - 08-01-2016, 12:46 AM
RE: Food for thought: Unums - Claudio L. - 08-01-2016, 01:06 AM

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