[Rd] R 2.5.0 refuses to print enough digits to recover exact floating point values

hadley wickham h.wickham at gmail.com
Wed May 23 11:51:14 CEST 2007

On 5/22/07, Uwe Ligges <ligges at statistik.uni-dortmund.de> wrote:
> Zack Weinberg wrote:
> > I have noticed that in R 2.5.0, no method of textual output will print
> > a "double" mode quantity with more than 15 digits after the decimal
> > point.  From the help page (?print.default) it appears that this is
> > intentional, since digits after the fifteenth may be uncertain.
> > However, fifteen digits after the decimal point are not enough to
> > represent all the values that an IEEE-double can take.  (You need one
> > more.)  This means it is now impossible to write out data in textual
> > format (e.g. in order to manipulate it with another program) and read
> > back in exactly the same values.  Some analyses are sensitive to this
> > sort of extra rounding, especially if it happens repeatedly.
> >
> > I'd really appreciate some way of forcing R to print enough digits to
> > represent every possible IEEE double value.  I would also argue that
> > this should be the default behavior of dump(), write.table() and
> > friends, and save(...,ascii=TRUE), to prevent data loss.
> Example:
> formatC(exp(1), digits=100, width=-1)

formatC(exp(1), digits=1000000, width=-1)
 *** caught bus error ***
address 0x2, cause 'non-existent physical address'

R version 2.5.0 (2007-04-23)


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