# Is there a faster way to calculate Abs[z]^2 numerically?

Here I'm not interested in accuracy (see 13614) but rather in raw speed. You'd think that for a complex machine-precision number z, calculating Abs[z]^2 should be faster than calculating Abs[z] because the latter requires a square root whereas the former does not. Yet it's not so:

s = RandomVariate[NormalDistribution[], {10^7, 2}].{1, I};
DeveloperPackedArrayQ[s]
(* True *)
Abs[s]^2; // AbsoluteTiming // First
(* 0.083337 *)
Abs[s]; // AbsoluteTiming // First
(* 0.033179 *)


This indicates that Abs[z]^2 is really calculated by summing the squares of real and imaginary parts, taking a square root (for Abs[z]), and then re-squaring (for Abs[z]^2).

Is there a faster way to compute Abs[z]^2? Is there a hidden equivalent to the GSL's gsl_complex_abs2 function? The source code of this GSL function is simply to return Re[z]^2+Im[z]^2; no fancy tricks.

• Here's an even slower way: (Re[#]^2 + Im[#]^2) & /@ s. And even slower still: Total[ReIm[#]^2] & /@ s May 10 '19 at 14:24

There's InternalAbsSquare:

s = RandomVariate[NormalDistribution[], {10^7, 2}].{1, I};
foo = InternalAbsSquare[s]; // AbsoluteTiming // First
murf = Abs[s]^2; // AbsoluteTiming // First
(*
0.022909
0.063441
*)

foo == murf
(*  True  *)

• Ah yes precisely what I was looking for, many thanks Michael! Is there a repository of such tricks? May 10 '19 at 14:25
• @Roman I was just looking. I thought there was a post about useful Internal  functions, but I couldn't find it just now. The context contains some useful numerical functions like Log1p and Expm1. StatisticsLibrary  also contains some nice, well-programmed functions. May 10 '19 at 14:31
• May 10 '19 at 14:31
• @ChrisK That must be it! Thanks. May 10 '19 at 14:32
• @CATrevillian I would have thought it was in the MKL (Intel Math Kernel Library), but I didn't find it there. I guess I don't know. May 11 '19 at 3:10

for v5.2, s Conjugate[s] is fast too, ref the pic: • On my computer, Re[s*Conjugate[s]] is about five to ten times slower than InternalAbsSquare[s]. What is your \$Version and what CPU do you have? Jul 8 '20 at 12:27
• Hi, people here generally like users to post code as Mathematica code instead of just images or TeX, so they can copy-paste it. It makes it convenient for them and more likely they will engage with your posts. You may find this meta Q&A helpful. -- BTW, have you seen RandomVariate[NormalDistribution[], {10^7, 2}]? It's much faster on my machine. Ditto for RandomComplex[]. Jul 8 '20 at 12:48
• @Roman Re[] is unnecessary, though it's very fast. My version is very old, it's v5.2. So there's no InternalAbsSquare[]. Jul 8 '20 at 18:14
• @MichaelE2 Thanks, man. My version is v5.2. This code is so simple that I had no motivation to paste text version at that moment. Sorry. Jul 8 '20 at 18:18
• Maybe it's worth adding the version info to your answer. It turns out that I don't have the StatisticsNormalDistribution` package (in V12.1.1), I suppose because it's been replaced by top-level statistics functions some versions ago. Jul 8 '20 at 19:08