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Re: [Qemu-devel] [PATCH v9 01/37] qobject: Document more shortcomings in

From: Markus Armbruster
Subject: Re: [Qemu-devel] [PATCH v9 01/37] qobject: Document more shortcomings in our number handling
Date: Thu, 21 Jan 2016 07:21:49 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.5 (gnu/linux)

Eric Blake <address@hidden> writes:

> On 01/20/2016 02:02 AM, Markus Armbruster wrote:
>>> @@ -519,6 +519,8 @@ static QObject *parse_literal(JSONParserContext *ctxt)
>>>      }
>>>      case JSON_FLOAT:
>>>          /* FIXME dependent on locale */
>>> +        /* FIXME our lexer matches RFC7159 in forbidding Inf or NaN,
>> For what it's worth, the RFC spells this "RFC 7159".
> Looks like we use space more often than not, but that we're
> inconsistent.  For example:
> slirp/tcp.h: * Per RFC 793, September, 1981.
> slirp/tcp.h: * Per RFC793, September, 1981.
> Will fix if I need to respin, otherwise I assume you can do it.


>>> +        /* FIXME: snprintf() is locale dependent; but JSON requires
>>> +         * numbers to be formatted as if in the C locale. */
>> The new FIXME matches the existing one in parse_literal(), visible
>> above.
>> However, dependence on C locale is a pervasive issue in QEMU.  These two
>> comments could give readers the idea that it's an issue just here.
>> Suggest to add something like "Dependence on C locale is a pervasive
>> issue in QEMU."
> Good idea.
>>> +        /* FIXME: This risks printing Inf or NaN, which are not valid
>>> +         * JSON values. */
>>> +        /* FIXME: the default precision of %f may be insufficient to
>>> +         * tell this number apart from others. */
>> Yup.
>> The easy way to avoid loss of precision is %a, but of course that's way
>> too much sophistication for JSON.
>> Avoiding loss of precision with a decimal format is non-trivial; see
>> Steele, Jr., Guy L., and White, Jon L. How to print floating-point
>> numbers accurately, SIGPLAN ’90, and later improvements collected here:
>> http://stackoverflow.com/questions/7153979/algorithm-to-convert-an-ieee-754-double-to-a-string
> Ah, memories.  I read and implemented that paper when working on the
> jikes compiler for the Java language back in the late nineties, as it is
> the Java language specification which had the very neat property of
> requiring the shortest decimal string that will unambiguously round back
> to the same floating point pattern.
> One alternative is to always output a guaranteed unambiguous decimal
> string (although not necessarily the shortest), by using %.17f, using
> <float.h> DBL_DECIMAL_DIG.  (Note that DBL_DIG of 15 is NOT sufficient -
> it is the lower limit that says that a decimal->float->decimal will not
> change the decimal; but we want the converse where a
> float->decimal->float will not change the float.  There are stretches of
> numbers where the pigeonhole principle applies; you can think of it this
> way: there is no way to map all possible 2^10 (1024) binary values
> inside 2^3 (1000) decimal digits without at least 24 of them needing one
> more decimal digit.  But by the same arguments, DBL_DECIMAL_DIG is an
> upper limit and usually more than you need.)
> So, the question is whether we want to always output 17 digits, or
> whether we want to do the poor-man's truncation scheme (easy to
> understand, but not optimal use of the processor), or go all the way to
> the algorithm of that paper (faster but lots harder to understand).  For
> reference, here's the poor-man's algorithm in pseudocode:

I don't think we want to implement floating-point formatting ourselves.

> if 0, inf, nan:
>     special case
> else:
>     Obtain the DBL_DECIMAL_DIG string via sprintf %.17f
>     i = 17;
>     do {
>         truncate the original string to i-1 decimal characters
>         parse that with strtod()
>         if the bit pattern differs:
>             break;
>     } while (--i);
>     assert(i)
>     use i digits of the string

That's a lot of strtod()...  May not be noticable if we write the result
to a slowish sink.  Binary search could save a few.

Naive idea: chop off trailing '0'?

> As a separate patch, of course, but I have a pending patch that provides
> a single place where we could drop in such an improvement:
> https://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/qemu-devel/2015-12/msg03932.html

Definitely separate.

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