6
$\begingroup$

I am trying to convert a string which contains a decimal number into a number with out any lost of precision. For example the string 5000000.0000000009 should become the number 5000000.0000000009 and not 5000000.000000001 Using the built in function like ToExpression certain numbers are rounded to machine precision but not all.

For example:

FullForm@ToExpression @ "5000000.0000000009"

Outputs:

5.000000000000001`*^6

Note: ToExpression returns the correct result for other slightly different numbers.

FullForm@ToExpression @ "5000000.00000000099"

Outputs:

5.00000000000000099`17.69897000433602*^6

Why does ToExpression round some numbers and not others or am I misunderstanding the output?

$\endgroup$
5
$\begingroup$

Basically, ToExpression converts number strings to machine precision if it can. Your example is an edge case where ToExpression converts the number to machine precision, but the machine real is not able to store all of the digits. One workaround is to indicate the precision explicitly:

ToExpression["5000000.0000000009`17"]//InputForm

5.0000000000000009`17.*^6

Note that converting the above extended precision number into a machine number yields the result that you were getting before:

N @ ToExpression["5000000.0000000009`17"] //InputForm

5.000000000000001*^6

Your other examples where things work as expected are because ToExpression is forced to convert to an extended precision number, or ToExpression converts to a machine number that is capable of representing all of the digits.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This it would seem would require the user then to edit all the input strings (may be they are in files) and add the correct `nn values to each string? Is this correct? $\endgroup$ – Nasser Aug 30 '17 at 18:14
  • $\begingroup$ My actual solution is to split the decimals on the periods and then use FromDigits to build a fraction, but I was interested in why it happens. $\endgroup$ – The Square Cow Aug 30 '17 at 19:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.