# When is divmod(a,b)[0] == floor(a/b)-1 ?

Discussion in 'Python' started by kj, Sep 24, 2009.

1. ### kjGuest

The docs for divmod include the following:

divmod(a, b)
...For floating point numbers the result is (q, a % b), where q
is usually math.floor(a / b) but may be 1 less than that. ...

I know that floating point math can sometimes produce "unexpected"
results, so the above caveat is not entirely surprising. Still,
I would find it helpful to see a specific example where
divmod(a, b)[0] is equal to math.floor(a/b)-1. Does anybody know
one?

Thanks!

kynn

kj, Sep 24, 2009

2. ### Robert KernGuest

On 2009-09-24 14:40 PM, kj wrote:
>
> The docs for divmod include the following:
>
> divmod(a, b)
> ...For floating point numbers the result is (q, a % b), where q
> is usually math.floor(a / b) but may be 1 less than that. ...
>
> I know that floating point math can sometimes produce "unexpected"
> results, so the above caveat is not entirely surprising. Still,
> I would find it helpful to see a specific example where
> divmod(a, b)[0] is equal to math.floor(a/b)-1. Does anybody know
> one?

In [21]: a = 10.0

In [22]: b = 10.0 / 3.0

In [24]: divmod(a, b)[0]
Out[24]: 2.0

In [25]: math.floor(a / b) - 1.0
Out[25]: 2.0

--
Robert Kern

"I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma
an underlying truth."
-- Umberto Eco

Robert Kern, Sep 24, 2009

3. ### kjGuest

In <> Robert Kern <> writes:

>On 2009-09-24 14:40 PM, kj wrote:
>>
>> The docs for divmod include the following:
>>
>> divmod(a, b)
>> ...For floating point numbers the result is (q, a % b), where q
>> is usually math.floor(a / b) but may be 1 less than that. ...
>>
>> I know that floating point math can sometimes produce "unexpected"
>> results, so the above caveat is not entirely surprising. Still,
>> I would find it helpful to see a specific example where
>> divmod(a, b)[0] is equal to math.floor(a/b)-1. Does anybody know
>> one?

>In [21]: a = 10.0

>In [22]: b = 10.0 / 3.0

>In [24]: divmod(a, b)[0]
>Out[24]: 2.0

>In [25]: math.floor(a / b) - 1.0
>Out[25]: 2.0

Wow. To me this stuff is just black magic, with a bit of voodoo
added for good measure... Maybe some day I'll understand it.

Thanks!

kynn

kj, Sep 24, 2009
4. ### Martin v. LöwisGuest

>> In [21]: a = 10.0
>
>> In [22]: b = 10.0 / 3.0

>
>> In [24]: divmod(a, b)[0]
>> Out[24]: 2.0

>
>> In [25]: math.floor(a / b) - 1.0
>> Out[25]: 2.0

>
> Wow. To me this stuff is just black magic, with a bit of voodoo
> added for good measure... Maybe some day I'll understand it.

I think this example is not too difficult to understand (IIUC).
I'll use integer constants to denote exact real numbers and
exact real operations, and the decimal point to denote floating
point numbers.

IIUC, the source of the problem is that 10.0/3.0 > 10/3. 10/3
is not exactly representable, so it needs to be rounded up or
rounded down; the closest representable value is larger than
the exact value.

Therefore, (10.0/3.0)*3 > 10. So 10.0/3.0 doesn't fit three times
into 10.0, but only two times; the quotient is therefore 2.0.
The remainder is really close to 10.0/3.0, though:

py> divmod(a,b)
(2.0, 3.333333333333333)
py> divmod(a,b)[1]-b
-4.4408920985006262e-16

So that explains why you get 2.0 as the quotient.

Now, if you do math.floor(a / b), we first need to look at
a/b. Again, 10.0/(10.0/3.0) is not exactly representable. Funnily,
the closest representable value is 3.0, so the quotient gets rounded
up again:

py> a/b
3.0

math.floor doesn't change the value, so it stays at 3.0; qed.

Regards,
Martin

Martin v. Löwis, Sep 27, 2009