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Transreal limits expose category errors in IEEE 754 floating-point arithmetic and in mathematics


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Anderson, J. A.D.W. and dos Reis, T. S. (2014) Transreal limits expose category errors in IEEE 754 floating-point arithmetic and in mathematics. In: International Conference on Computer Science and Applications (WCECS 2014), 22-24 October 2014, San Francisco, USA, , pp. 86-91.

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The IEEE 754 standard for oating-point arithmetic is widely used in computing. It is based on real arithmetic and is made total by adding both a positive and a negative infinity, a negative zero, and many Not-a-Number (NaN) states. The IEEE infinities are said to have the behaviour of limits. Transreal arithmetic is total. It also has a positive and a negative infinity but no negative zero, and it has a single, unordered number, nullity. We elucidate the transreal tangent and extend real limits to transreal limits. Arguing from this firm foundation, we maintain that there are three category errors in the IEEE 754 standard. Firstly the claim that IEEE infinities are limits of real arithmetic confuses limiting processes with arithmetic. Secondly a defence of IEEE negative zero confuses the limit of a function with the value of a function. Thirdly the definition of IEEE NaNs confuses undefined with unordered. Furthermore we prove that the tangent function, with the infinities given by geometrical con- struction, has a period of an entire rotation, not half a rotation as is commonly understood. This illustrates a category error, confusing the limit with the value of a function, in an important area of applied mathe- matics { trigonometry. We brie y consider the wider implications of this category error. Another paper proposes transreal arithmetic as a basis for floating- point arithmetic; here we take the profound step of proposing transreal arithmetic as a replacement for real arithmetic to remove the possibility of certain category errors in mathematics. Thus we propose both theo- retical and practical advantages of transmathematics. In particular we argue that implementing transreal analysis in trans- floating-point arith- metic would extend the coverage, accuracy and reliability of almost all computer programs that exploit real analysis { essentially all programs in science and engineering and many in finance, medicine and other socially beneficial applications.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Computer Science
ID Code:37406
Uncontrolled Keywords:transreal arithmetic, transreal analysis, transreal tangent, negative zero, NaN
Additional Information:Proceedings: World Congress on Engineering and Computer Science 2014, San Francisco, USA, 22-24 October, 2014 Publisher: International Association of Engineers Pages: 86-91 ISBN: 9789881925206 ISSN: 2078-0958

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