[Rd] Reading 64-bit integers

Duncan Murdoch murdoch.duncan at gmail.com
Wed Mar 30 02:47:41 CEST 2011

On 29/03/2011 7:01 PM, Jon Clayden wrote:
> Dear Simon,
> On 29 March 2011 22:40, Simon Urbanek<simon.urbanek at r-project.org>  wrote:
>> Jon,
>> On Mar 29, 2011, at 1:33 PM, Jon Clayden wrote:
>>> Dear Simon,
>>> Thank you for the response.
>>> On 29 March 2011 15:06, Simon Urbanek<simon.urbanek at r-project.org>  wrote:
>>>> On Mar 29, 2011, at 8:46 AM, Jon Clayden wrote:
>>>>> Dear all,
>>>>> I see from some previous threads that support for 64-bit integers in R
>>>>> may be an aim for future versions, but in the meantime I'm wondering
>>>>> whether it is possible to read in integers of greater than 32 bits at
>>>>> all. Judging from ?readBin, it should be possible to read 8-byte
>>>>> integers to some degree, but it is clearly limited in practice by R's
>>>>> internally 32-bit integer type:
>>>>>> x<- as.raw(c(0,0,0,0,1,0,0,0))
>>>>>> (readBin(x,"integer",n=1,size=8,signed=F,endian="big"))
>>>>> [1] 16777216
>>>>>> x<- as.raw(c(0,0,0,1,0,0,0,0))
>>>>>> (readBin(x,"integer",n=1,size=8,signed=F,endian="big"))
>>>>> [1] 0
>>>>> For values that fit into 32 bits it works fine, but for larger values
>>>>> it fails. (I'm a bit surprised by the zero - should the value not be
>>>>> NA if it is out of range?
>>>> No, it's not out of range - int is only 4 bytes so only 4 first bytes (respecting endianness order, hence LSB) are used.
>>> The fact remains that I ask for the value of an 8-byte integer and
>>> don't get it.
>> I think you're misinterpreting the documentation:
>>      If ‘size’ is specified and not the natural size of the object,
>>      each element of the vector is coerced to an appropriate type
>>      before being written or as it is read.
>> The "integer" object type is defined as signed 32-bit in R, so if you ask for "8 bytes into object type integer", you get a coercion into that object type -- 32-bit signed integer -- as documented. I think the issue may come from the confusion of the object type "integer" with general "integer number" in mathematical sense that has no representation restrictions. (FWIW in C the "integer" type is "int" and it is 32-bit on all modern OSes regardless of platform - that's where the limitation comes from, it's not something R has made up).
> OK, but it still seems like there is a case for raising a warning. As
> it is there is no way to tell when reading an 8-byte integer from a
> file whether its value is really 0, or if it merely has 0 in its
> least-significant 4 bytes. If 99% of such stored numbers are below
> 2^31, one is going to need some extra logic to catch the other 1%
> where you (silently) get the wrong value. In essence, unless you're
> certain that you will never come across a number that actually uses
> the upper 4 bytes, you will always have to read it as two 4-byte
> numbers and check that the high-order one (which is endianness
> dependent, of course) is zero. A C-level sanity check seems more
> efficient and more helpful to me.

Seems to me that the S-PLUS solution (output="double") would be a lot 
more useful.  I'd commit that if you write it; I don't think I'd commit 
the warning.

Duncan Murdoch

>>> Pretending that it's really only four bytes because of
>>> the limits of R's integer type isn't all that helpful. Perhaps a
>>> warning should be put out if the cast will affect the value of the
>>> result? It looks like the relevant lines in src/main/connections.c are
>>> 3689-3697 in the current alpha:
>>> #if SIZEOF_LONG == 8
>>>                    case sizeof(long):
>>>                        INTEGER(ans)[i] = (int)*((long *)buf);
>>>                        break;
>>> #elif SIZEOF_LONG_LONG == 8
>>>                    case sizeof(_lli_t):
>>>                        INTEGER(ans)[i] = (int)*((_lli_t *)buf);
>>>                        break;
>>> #endif
>>>>> ) The value can be represented as a double,
>>>>> though:
>>>>>> 4294967296
>>>>> [1] 4294967296
>>>>> I wouldn't expect readBin() to return a double if an integer was
>>>>> requested, but is there any way to get the correct value out of it?
>>>> Trivially (for your unsigned big-endian case):
>>>> y<- readBin(x, "integer", n=length(x)/4L, endian="big")
>>>> y<- ifelse(y<  0, 2^32 + y, y)
>>>> i<- seq(1,length(y),2)
>>>> y<- y[i] * 2^32 + y[i + 1L]
>>> Thanks for the code, but I'm not sure I would call that trivial,
>>> especially if one needs to cater for little endian and signed cases as
>>> well!
>> I was saying for your case and it's trivial as in read as integers, convert to double precision and add.
>>> This is what I meant by reconstructing the number manually...
>> You didn't say so - you were talking about reconstructing it from a raw vector which seems a lot more painful since you can't compute with enough precision on raw vectors.
> True - I should have been more specific. Sorry.
> Jon
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