Exact real arithmetic
Exact real arithmetic is an interesting area: it is a deep connection between
- numeric methods
- and deep theoretic fondations of algorithms (and mathematics).
Its topic: computable real numbers raise a lot of interesting questions rooted in mathematical analysis, arithmetic, but also Computability theory (see numbers-as-programs approaches).
Computable reals can be achieved by many approaches -- it is not one single theory.
1.1 What it is not
Exact real arithmetic is not the same as fixed arbitrary precision reals (see
Precision(n) of Yacas).
Exact reals must allow us to run a huge series of computations, prescribing only the precision of the end result. Intermediate computations, and determining their necessary precision must be achieved automatically, dynamically.
Maybe another problem, but it was that lead me to think on exact real arithmetic: using some Mandelbrot-plotting programs, the number of iterations must be prescribed by the user at the beginning. And when we zoom too deep into these Mandelbrot worlds, it will become ragged or smooth. Maybe solving this particular problem does not need necessarily the concept of exact real arithmetic, but it was the first time I began to think on such problems.
See other numeric algorithms at Libraries and tools/Mathematics.
1.2 Why, are there reals at all, which are defined exactly, but are not computable?
See Wikipedia article on Chaitin's construction, referring to e.g.
- Computing a Glimpse of Randomness (written by Cristian S. Calude, Michael J. Dinneen, and Chi-Kou Shu)
- Omega and why math has no TOEs (Gregory Chaitin).
Some more direct relatedness to functional programming: we can base Ω on combinatory logic (instead of a Turing machine), see the prefix coding system dscribed in Binary Lambda Calculus and Combinatory Logic (page 20) written by John Tromp:
of course, c, d are metavariables, and also some other notations are changed slightly.
Now, Chatin's construct will be here
where hnf should denote an unary predicate “has normal form” (“terminates”) and dc should mean an operator “decode” (from binary string into combinatory logic term), and should denote the set of all finite bit sequences. “Absolut value” should mean the length of a bit sequence (not combinatory logic term evaluation!)
Jean Vuillemin's Exact real computer arithmetic with continued fractions is very good article on the topic itself. It can serve also as a good introductory article, too, because it presents the connections to both mathematical analysis and Computability theory. It discusses several methods, and it describes some of them in more details.
Martín Escardó has many exact real arithetic materials also among his many papers.
3 Portal-like homepages
There are functional programming materials too, even with downloadable Haskell source.
This HaWiki article provides links to many implementations.