# WL#2934: Make/find library for doing float/double to string conversions and vice versa

Affects: Server-5.5
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Status: Complete
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Priority: Medium

We currently rely on the system sprintf() function to do conversions from doubles and floats to strings (and the reverse), which results in inconsistent results from system-to-system. We need to find or write a library for doing these conversions. There are papers describing the algorithms for floats <=> strings conversions: - Guy L. Steele, Jr., Jon L. White. "How to print floating-point numbers accurately". http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=93559&coll=portal&dl=ACM&CFID=551188&CFTOKEN=64149307 - William D. Clinger. "How to read floating point numbers accurately" http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=93557&coll=portal&dl=ACM&CFID=1476301&CFTOKEN=64297675 There is also dtoa, a "float to/from string" conversion library which is loosely based on the above papers. We need to find out whether it is legally possible to include that implementation into MySQL code. BUG#12860 is an example of a difference between Windows and most Unix systems. BUG#21497 "DOUBLE truncated to unusable value" is an example where standard library functions do not provide the necessary precision in some cases (e.g. when a number is close to IEEE limits). BUG#24541 is an example where we want to convert not to an exact string representation performed by the standard library functions, but rather to a shortest string that yields input floating point number when read in and rounded to nearest, such as by the "mode 0" in dtoa. BUG#26788 demostrates that as libc printf() doesn't have support the format we need, we need to juggle with %g width, predicting whether it'll result in scientific or decimal notation. And the latter is impossible to do in all cases.

Our legal counsel has given the OK to use dtoa.c in the server. Kostja has a patched version of dtoa.c which replaces malloc with our allocation routines.

All current server code which needs to perform double-to-string or vice versa conversions can be divided into 3 categories: 1. Convert a double or float number with a fixed precision into its decimal string representation using the 'f' format. Since a representation in the 'f' format can be up to 341 bytes long, a buffer of sufficient size is allocated. 2. Convert a double or float number without precision specification into a string of limited length using the 'e' or 'f' format, whichever provides the most number of significant digits with a given string length. 3. Convert a string containing a decimal representation of a floating point number in the 'e' or 'f' format into a double number. dtoa.c code contains 2 functions, dtoa() and strtod(), which allow us to utilize them for the above 3 tasks. The dtoa() interface is similar to that of ecvt(3) and fcvt(3), i.e. it takes a double argument and the number of significant digits (depending on the 'mode' of operation, it may be either the total number of significant digits, or the number of significant digits after the decimal point) and returns a string containing _only_ significant digits of the resulting decimal representation without a decimal point. The position of the decimal point relative to the start of the string is returned as an output argument, decpt. Since the result string of dtoa() is not a valid 'e'- or 'f'-format representation of a floating point number, nor does it have a notion of a 'field width', 2 wrappers around dtoa() corresponding to cases 1 and 2 above were implemented. Below are their prototypes along with their comments explaining the semantics: --- cut --- /** @brief Converts a given floating point number to a zero-terminated string representation using the 'f' format. @details This function is a wrapper around dtoa() to do the same as sprintf(to, "%-.*f", precision, x), though the conversion is usually more precise. The only difference is in handling [-,+]infinity and nan values, in which case we print '0\0' to the output string and indicate an overflow. @param x the input floating point number. @param precision the number of digits after the decimal point. All properties of sprintf() apply: - if the number of significant digits after the decimal point is less than precision, the resulting string is right-padded with zeros - if the precision is 0, no decimal point appears - if a decimal point appears, at least one digit appears before it @param to pointer to the output buffer. The longest string which my_fcvt() can return is FLOATING_POINT_BUFFER bytes (including the terminating '\0'). @param to_end if not NULL, is set to point to the last written character (which is always '\0'). @retval TRUE returned when the input number is [-,+]infinity or nan. The output string in this case is always '0'. @retval FALSE returned in case of successful conversion. */ my_bool my_fcvt(double x, int precision, char *to, char **to_end); /** @brief Converts a given floating point number to a zero-terminated string representation with a given field width using the 'e' format (aka scientific notation) or the 'f' one. @details The format is chosen automatically to provide the most number of significant digits (and thus, precision) with a given field width. In many cases, the result is similar to that of sprintf(to, "%g", x) with a few notable differences: - the conversion is usually more precise than C library functions. - there is no 'precision' argument. instead, we specify the number of characters available for conversion (i.e. a field width). - the result never exceeds the specified field width. If the field is too short to contain even a rounded decimal representation, my_gcvt() indicates overflow and sets '0\0' as the result of the conversion. - float-type arguments are handled differently than the double ones. For the float input number (i.e. when the 'type' argument is MY_GCVT_ARG_FLOAT) we deliberately limit the precision of conversion by FLT_DIG digits to avoid garbage past the significant digits. - unlike sprintf(), in cases where the 'e' format is preferred, we don't zero-pad the exponent to save space for significant digits. The '+' sign for a positive exponent does not appear for the same reason. @param x the input floating point number. @param type is either MY_GCVT_ARG_FLOAT or MY_GCVT_ARG_DOUBLE. Specifies the type of the input number (see notes above). @param width field width in characters. The minimal field width to hold any number representation (albeit rounded) is 7 characters ("-Ne-NNN"). @param to pointer to the output buffer. The result is always zero-terminated, and the longest returned string is thus 'width + 1' bytes. @param to_end if not NULL, is set to point to the last written character (which is always '\0'). @retval TRUE returned when the input number is [-,+]infinity, nan, or cannot be represented with a given field width. The output string in this case is always '0'. @retval FALSE returned in case of successful conversion. @todo Check if it is possible and makes sense to do our own rounding on top of dtoa() instead of calling dtoa() twice in (rare) cases when the resulting string representation does not fit in the specified field width and we want to re-round the input number with fewer significant digits. */ my_bool my_gcvt(double x, my_gcvt_arg_type type, int width, char *to, char **to_end); --- cut --- The my_gcvt() wrapper is quite tricky, because we have the 'field width' constraint and hence need to re-round dtoa() results in some cases. For example '0.01' cannot be represented precisely in a 3-character string. dtoa() returns '1', decpt=-1 when passed 3 as the 'number of significant digits' argument, because in '0.01', 1 is the only significant digit. This is currently solved by calling dtoa() twice, to re-round the result to a specified number of significant digits after the point. strtod() is basically needed because it is more precise than the current, "naive" implementation. Previously, imprecise results from my_strtod() were "hidden" by our imprecise way of double->string conversion via sprintf(). Since dtoa() provides more precision in a double->string conversion, results obtained by an imprecise reverse conversion may lead to unexpected behavior in some cases. The wrapper over dtoa's strtod() replaces the current my_strtod(). Here is the prototype with comments: --- cut --- /** @brief Converts string to double (string does not have to be zero-terminated) @details This is a wrapper around dtoa's version of strtod(). @param str input string @param end address of a pointer to the first character after the input string. Upon return the pointer is set to point to the first rejected character. @param error Upon return is set to EOVERFLOW in case of underflow or overflow. @return The resulting double value. In case of underflow, 0.0 is returned. In case overflow, signed infinity is returned. */ double my_strtod(const char *str, char **end, int *error); --- cut ---

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