Nov 25, 2011


The class Math contains methods for performing basic numeric operations such as the elementary exponential, logarithm, square root, and trigonometric functions.
Unlike some of the numeric methods of class StrictMath, all implementations of the equivalent functions of class Math are not defined to return the bit-for-bit same results. This relaxation permits better-performing implementations where strict reproducibility is not required.
By default many of the Math methods simply call the equivalent method in StrictMath for their implementation. Code generators are encouraged to use platform-specific native libraries or microprocessor instructions, where available, to provide higher-performance implementations of Math methods. Such higher-performance implementations still must conform to the specification for Math.
The quality of implementation specifications concern two properties, accuracy of the returned result and monotonicity of the method. Accuracy of the floating-point Math methods is measured in terms of ulps, units in the last place. For a given floating-point format, an ulp of a specific real number value is the distance between the two floating-point values bracketing that numerical value. When discussing the accuracy of a method as a whole rather than at a specific argument, the number of ulps cited is for the worst-case error at any argument. If a method always has an error less than 0.5 ulps, the method always returns the floating-point number nearest the exact result; such a method is correctly rounded. A correctly rounded method is generally the best a floating-point approximation can be; however, it is impractical for many floating-point methods to be correctly rounded. Instead, for the Math class, a larger error bound of 1 or 2 ulps is allowed for certain methods. Informally, with a 1 ulp error bound, when the exact result is a representable number, the exact result should be returned as the computed result; otherwise, either of the two floating-point values which bracket the exact result may be returned. For exact results large in magnitude, one of the endpoints of the bracket may be infinite. Besides accuracy at individual arguments, maintaining proper relations between the method at different arguments is also important. Therefore, most methods with more than 0.5 ulp errors are required to be semi-monotonic: whenever the mathematical function is non-decreasing, so is the floating-point approximation, likewise, whenever the mathematical function is non-increasing, so is the floating-point approximation. Not all approximations that have 1 ulp accuracy will automatically meet the monotonicity requirements. 


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