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High-Precision Floating-Point Arithmetic in Scientific Computation
May/June 2005 (vol. 7 no. 3)
pp. 54-61
David H. Bailey, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
At the present time, IEEE 64-bit floating-point arithmetic is sufficiently accurate for most scientific applications. However, for a rapidly growing body of important scientific computing applications, a higher level of numeric precision is required: some of these applications require roughly twice this level; others require four times; while still others require hundreds or more digits to obtain numerically meaningful results. Such calculations have been facilitated by new high-precision software packages that include high-level language translation modules to minimize the conversion effort. These activities have yielded a number of interesting new scientific results in fields as diverse as quantum theory, climate modeling and experimental mathematics, a few of which are described in this article. Such developments suggest that in the future, the numeric precision used for a scientific computation may be as important to the program design as are the algorithms and data structures.
Index Terms:
high-precision arithmetic, experimental mathematics, climate modeling, quantum theory, computational chemistry, computational physics
Citation:
David H. Bailey, "High-Precision Floating-Point Arithmetic in Scientific Computation," Computing in Science and Engineering, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 54-61, May-June 2005, doi:10.1109/MCSE.2005.52
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