why is rails/ruby automatically rounding to whole numbers.

Discussion in 'Ruby' started by Morgan Morgan, Jan 23, 2010.

1. Morgan MorganGuest

@wtf= 751 / 750

returns 1 in the view

@wtf= 3 / 750

returns 0 in the view

@wtf= 749 / 750

returns 0 in the view.

can somebody explain what's going on here. i'm just trying to calculate
percents.
--
Posted via http://www.ruby-forum.com/.

Morgan Morgan, Jan 23, 2010

2. Morgan MorganGuest

Morgan Morgan wrote:
> @wtf= 751 / 750
>
> returns 1 in the view
>
> @wtf= 3 / 750
>
> returns 0 in the view
>
> @wtf= 749 / 750
>
> returns 0 in the view.
>
>
> can somebody explain what's going on here. i'm just trying to calculate
> percents.

Apparently if you add a .0 it turns it into a precise number
--
Posted via http://www.ruby-forum.com/.

Morgan Morgan, Jan 23, 2010

3. Raul JaraGuest

Re: why is rails/ruby automatically rounding to whole number

Morgan Morgan wrote:
> Morgan Morgan wrote:
>> @wtf= 751 / 750
>>
>> returns 1 in the view
>>
>> @wtf= 3 / 750
>>
>> returns 0 in the view
>>
>> @wtf= 749 / 750
>>
>> returns 0 in the view.
>>
>>
>> can somebody explain what's going on here. i'm just trying to calculate
>> percents.

>
>
> Apparently if you add a .0 it turns it into a precise number

In ruby there are two kinds of numbers (really more than that, but let's
just leave it at two for now) Fixnums and Floats. Fixnums are basically
whole numbers or integers. Floats are any numbers with decimal places
in them. Whenever you do math between two Fixnums, ruby assumes that
you want a fixnum as an answer, and it will only provide a fixnum as a
result. This is incredibly useful when working with arrays, because if
an array is length 9 and you divide that by 2, you get 4, which is a
usable index for an array. 4.5 wouldn't be. However if any math
operation involve one number that is a float, the answer will be a
float. So 1 (Fixnum) / 2 (Fixnum) = 0 (Fixnum). But 1.0 (Float) / 2
(Fixnum) = 0.5 (Float).

Is that clear?

--
Posted via http://www.ruby-forum.com/.

Raul Jara, Jan 23, 2010
4. Justin CollinsGuest

Morgan Morgan wrote:
> @wtf= 751 / 750
>
> returns 1 in the view
>
> @wtf= 3 / 750
>
> returns 0 in the view
>
> @wtf= 749 / 750
>
> returns 0 in the view.
>
>
> can somebody explain what's going on here. i'm just trying to calculate
> percents.
>

Ruby performs integer division when the numerator and the denominator
are both integers. If either is a floating point number, it will perform
floating point division. Therefore, simply call .to_f on either side of
the division and you will get a floating point number.

-Justin

Justin Collins, Jan 23, 2010
5. Guest

On Fri, Jan 22, 2010 at 9:02 PM, Morgan Morgan <> wrote:
> Morgan Morgan wrote:
>> =A0 =A0 =A0 @wtf=3D 751 / 750
>> =A0 =A0 =A0returns 1 in the view
>>
>> =A0 =A0 =A0 @wtf=3D 3 / 750
>> =A0 =A0 =A0returns 0 in the view
>>
>> i'm just trying to calculate percents.

>
> Apparently if you add a .0 it turns it into a precise number

http://www.ruby-doc.org/docs/ProgrammingRuby/html/tut_stdtypes.html

\$ irb
irb(main):001:0> 1.class
=3D> Fixnum
irb(main):002:0> 1.0.class
=3D> Float

, Jan 23, 2010
6. Josh CheekGuest

[Note: parts of this message were removed to make it a legal post.]

On Fri, Jan 22, 2010 at 7:57 PM, Morgan Morgan <> wrote:

> @wtf= 751 / 750
>
> returns 1 in the view
>
> @wtf= 3 / 750
>
> returns 0 in the view
>
> @wtf= 749 / 750
>
> returns 0 in the view.
>
>
> can somebody explain what's going on here. i'm just trying to calculate
> percents.
> --
> Posted via http://www.ruby-forum.com/.
>
>

First an example. Lets say you were managing a school, you had two
Philosophy courses, the first course has 1 student, the second course has 6
students. You want to balance them, how do you do this? With 7 students
total, and 2 courses, 7/2 is 3.5, so we chop one student in half and put 3.5
students into each course. Unfortunately, students who have been chopped in
half tend to be poor learners (and the janitor hates cleaning up blood). So
instead, you put 3 in the first course, and 4 in the second.

In this case, we have 7/2, and expect 3 and 4, rather than 3.5 and 3.5

So why do you get the results you do in your examples? It has to do with how
variables are stored. In lower level languages, the program has to know
ahead of time what kind of number to expect (because of how memory is
managed), so you specifically declare to the translator what kind of
variables you are storing. When you declare something as an int, it cannot
then become a float, because that is not what you have declared (it is fixed
at the time that the program code is generated, and can't change at run time
if you get 10/6 instead of 10/5, this is called static).

So when you say 1/2, the answer may be 0.5, but that is a number with a
decimal place (called float, which stands for floating point, meaning that
the decimal place can move around between digits, for example 1.23 vs 12.3),
but the variable you are storing it in may be an integer, so it has no way
to store this float. In order to store it, the result is made into an
integer by removing everything after the decimal place (known as
truncating).

This is how things have been for a very long time, and now that dynamic
languages are becoming popular, they are largely maintaining this behaviour,
because integers and floats are typically used in very different ways, so it
would complicate a lot of situtions if they could switch back and forth
without you explicitly saying it should be allowed. For example, if you have
some code that you want to be executed some number of times that was
calculated (called a loop), then if the calculation returns 5 it is straight
forward, but it could come back as 5.2 or 5.3, or some other non integer.
What does it mean to execute code 5.3 times? In places where discrete
quantities are expected, how do they deal with the remainder? It does not
make sense to have 4.5 students in a class, and it does not make sense to
execute the code 5.3 times. We expect integer quantities.

So in most languages, integers and floats are considered to be separate
things, and will not switch back and forth unless you specifically say to do
so.

In 751 / 750, those are both integers, the interpreter assumes that if you
are dividing two integers, you want the result to be an integer as well,
since the result is about 1.0013 it simply truncates the remainder, leaving
one. When you say 749/750, it does the same thing, but this time the result
is about 0.9987, so it truncates the remainder, leaving zero.

This is one facet of the issue, but the other is that it is not simple to go
from floating point back to integer. A number like 1/3 is 0.3 with the three
repeating. This cannot be represented with any finite number of digits, so
if you multiplied it by three, expecting to get one again, how would you
know that the next digit after the last one was also a three? How would you
go from that number back to the integer one? For example, if floating point
numbers could store 4 decimal places, then 16667/50000, and 8333/25000, and
1/3 would all look like 0.3333, but only the last one should return the
integer 1, when multiplied by 3. So there are issues with converting from
floats back to integers as well.

We could just make all numbers floating points, or even generalize them to
more abstract representations, such as stored functions like the square root
of 2 (which has an infinite number of non-repeating digits), but then it
would be difficult to quickly compare them to other numbers, and we couldn't
know how much room they take to store (necessary in many languages, and for
lots of useful things. For example, to access databases quickly, we need to
know how much room a given field takes so we can calculate the location of
the next field and go there directly without looking at all the information
in between. Or so we can make sure that there will be enough room to store
it on the device we have selected). We also wouldn't be able to quickly do
heavy math operations on these abstract representations. So we accept a
representation that is not precise, the float. It's a trade off. But it
prevents us from knowing for sure that 0.3333 times 3 is 1, so generally we
do not allow conversion to floating points unless that is really what we
need for the given step. We keep track of where we want our integers, and
where we want our floats.

You can see, there is a lot of ambiguity with numbers, and numbers that
track their decimal place are used in very different ways than integer
numbers, which are usually selected because they come in discrete
quantities.

This is why we consider the two to be different, which is why the
interpreter does not immediately convert integer numbers into floating point
numbers, which is why 751/750 is one, and 749/750 is zero. Integer divided
by integer assumes the result should be integer, but 751/750.0 is
1.00133333333333, because one of the parameters was a float, so it assumes a
float result is acceptable.

Most languages behave in this manner.

Hope that helps, just remember when dividing integers, the remainder will be
truncated, so if you need the remainder, convert one of the arguments to a
float first.

Josh Cheek, Jan 23, 2010