[texhax] why not floating-point?
Barbara Beeton
bnb at ams.org
Thu Sep 16 19:26:30 CEST 2004
What about adding floating-point arithmetic support to TeX?
perhaps it could be considered for an extension to a
tex successor. but it will never be added to tex
itself. when tex was implemented on multiple platforms,
it was demonstrated that the floating-point arithmentic
was seriously not the same on all platforms, hence the
decision to use only a very fine-grained fixed-point
mechanism. perhaps the situation has changed now, and
floating point is (more) uniform. but that would need
to be demonstrated, to ensure platform independence.
Motivation: I understand that the main obstacle to implementing truly
powerful graphic routines directly via TeX is that TeX cannot handle
floating-point arithmetics. While various external tricks are
wonderful, they seem a bit unstable (eg the beauty of PostScripting via
packages like eepic, that suddenly becomes unavailable when switching
to pdfTeX).
a worthy goal, but it doesn't outweigh the original
motivation, which strongly affects the positioning of
letters in a line of type or symbols in a built-up
equation.
in any event, tex itself is frozen, so this is a
topic for a successor.
-- bb
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