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*To*: info-dylan@cambridge.apple.com*Subject*: Re: small integers, numerical efficiency*From*: zilla@ccrl.nj.nec.com (John Lewis)*Date*: Thu, 29 Oct 92 14:37:25 EST

I agree with the recent message by Jim Allard r.e. numerics in Lisp. Lisp is wonderful, but both its design and its implementations usually have a strong bias which hinders the use of the language for numerical algorithms. Bignums and rational numbers are (IMHO) useful for a relatively specialized type of application- things like Macsyma. These features are not generally used in what is probably a much larger class of numerical algorithms. David Moon (i recall) commented that he would rather see floating point removed from Dylan than have a half-baked numeric system like that in C. Although I agree that the C (also fortran,...) numeric system is poorly designed, nevertheless in fact I would much rather see Dylan have a "normal" but efficient numeric system than Bignums!!! The numeric system in Scheme, which may be considered to be well designed, drives me nuts! For the current discussion I would like to try to label myself as a 'non-AI' user of Lisp, the sort of programmer who will use Dylan. In ~8 years of Lisp programming, I have - used Lisp for languages and interactive code with excellent results - used rational numbers only a couple of times - never required bignums - tried many wierd schemes to do efficient numeric work in a Lisp context - still write most numerical code in C Dylan is a rare opportunity; i also hope it does not inherit CL's numerical inefficiencly and problems as described Jim Allard's message. Acceptable efficiency is matter of opinion; I would find Dylan acceptable for most uses if it were within 1/2-1/3 of the speed of C/etc. implementations. I am still looking forward to Dylan even if numerical efficiency is not practical (the issues are way over my head certainly), but I hope that at least an efficient and standard foreign function interface can be provided.

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