Thanks Norman. Sorry for not being as clear as I might wish.

I was trying to provide an example suggesting significance divided by
difficulty often influences the design of programming languages and
libraries. For me the critique of the standard is context for the last

The interesting bit for me is the inference "(working) programs are logical
-> programming languages are logical" may not be a sound basis for invoking
the principle of least surprise. Perhaps apart from this being the general
character of human endeavor (as Plauger's remarks about IEEE 754 seem to
suggest in light of your comments), it may also be a symptom of most widely
used programming languages having a linguistic heritage aligned with

Caveat that my remark was regarding the literature of programming rather
than mathematics.

Cheers. Ben

On Tue, Feb 6, 2018 at 7:07 AM, Norman Gray <> wrote:

> Greetings.
> On 6 Feb 2018, at 13:00, ben.rudgers wrote:
>   "The library [math.h] doesn't try to distinguish +0 from -0. IEEE 754
>> worries quite
>>   a bit about this distinction. All the architectures I mentioned above
>> can
>> represent
>>   both flavors of zero. But I have trouble accepting (or even
>> understanding) the
>>   rationale for this extra complexity. I can sympathize with recent
>> critiques of the
>>   IEEE 754 Standard that challenge that rationale. Most of all, I found
>> the
>> functions
>>   quite hard enough to write without fretting about the sign of nothing."
> If I recall correctly, this is included in the IEEE standard in order to
> support various functions which have a cut along the real axis in the
> complex plane, and so which have a significantly different values on that
> real line, when approached from above and below the line (in the complex
> plane).
> But this is a rather hand-waving explanation, and I'll defer to those with
> more detailed knowledge of the relevant numerical analysis.
> Norman
> --
> Norman Gray  :

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