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st: RE: How easy to get caught by rounding error

From   "Keith Dear" <[email protected]>
To   <[email protected]>
Subject   st: RE: How easy to get caught by rounding error
Date   Tue, 14 Dec 2010 09:54:25 +1100

Yes that is worrying:

. di %20.16f 7*180/10

. di %20.16f 7/10*180

. di .7*180

. di floor(.7*180)	// as per -help binomialtail-

Can't be too careful it seems! 
But I have to wonder WHY the function uses floor() -- it seeems to lay a
trap without adding any useful functionality.
Safer would be to issue an error if the supposedly integer arguments
aren't. Is there a major downside to this?
Anyway, thanks for the warning.

-----Original Message-----
From: [email protected]
[mailto:[email protected]] On Behalf Of Allan Reese
Sent: Tuesday, 14 December 2010 4:29 AM
To: [email protected]
Cc: David Smith (Cefas); David Maxwell (Cefas); Jon Barry (Cefas); Mark
Thrush (Cefas); Nick Taylor (Cefas)
Subject: st: How easy to get caught by rounding error

Tabulating some binomial tail probabilities, I was startled that they
were not monotonic.  To cut a long story short, the erroneous result was

binomialtail( 180 , .7*180 , .75), which was different from
binomialtail( 180 , 126 , .75), 
although .7*180 insisted on printing as 126 

binomialtail( 180 , 180/10*7 , .75) did equal binomialtail( 180, 126 ,
.75) as did binomialtail( 180, round(.7*180) , .75) 

binomialtail( 180 , .7/180 , .75) = binomialtail( 180 , 125 , .75)

It's made me think how hard it is to *prove* that a computer program is
correct.  round() should fix this one - for all values?


R Allan Reese
Senior statistician, Cefas
The Nothe, Weymouth DT4 8UB 

Tel: +44 (0)1305 206614 -direct
Fax: +44 (0)1305 206601 

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