GNU bug report logs - #42644
28.0.50; Please let max and min accept zero arguments

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Package: emacs; Severity: wishlist; Reported by: Michael Heerdegen <michael_heerdegen@HIDDEN>; dated Sat, 1 Aug 2020 06:31:01 UTC; Maintainer for emacs is bug-gnu-emacs@HIDDEN.
Severity set to 'wishlist' from 'normal' Request was from Stefan Kangas <stefan@HIDDEN> to control <at> debbugs.gnu.org. Full text available.

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From: Dmitry Alexandrov <dag@HIDDEN>
To: Michael Heerdegen <michael_heerdegen@HIDDEN>
Subject: Re: bug#42644: 28.0.50; Please let max and min accept zero arguments
In-Reply-To: <87d048wkf8.fsf@HIDDEN> (Michael Heerdegen's message of "Mon, 03
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Michael Heerdegen <michael_heerdegen@HIDDEN> wrote:
> Dmitry Alexandrov <dag@HIDDEN> writes:
>
>> What reader syntax would you prefer?
>
> I'm not criticizing the current syntax for the infinities.  It's just har=
d to remember them.

???

>> As for that regard, what=CA=BCs wrong with, (/ +1.0 0) and (/ -1.0 0)?
>
> Wow, that doesn't error?

Thankfully, no.  So third-parties do not have to invent another numbers, li=
ke in some other languages:

	>>> 1 / 0.0
	Traceback (most recent call last):
	  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
	ZeroDivisionError: float division by zero
	>>> import numpy
	>>> 1 / numpy.float64(0.0)
	inf

> It's hard to find a mathematical interpretation in which this makes any s=
ense.

Dunno.  It makes perfect natural sense to me.  Perhaps, mathematics is too =
mind-warping. :-)

Also, I=CA=BCd better emphasised zero, not numerator, with explicit flonum =
notation.  I hope, writing the same thing another way would help to realise=
 how obvious it is:

        (/ +1 0.0) ; =E2=87=92 1.0e+INF

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bug#42644; Package emacs. Full text available.

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Subject: Re: bug#42644: 28.0.50; Please let max and min accept zero arguments
To: Michael Heerdegen <michael_heerdegen@HIDDEN>
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Michael Heerdegen <michael_heerdegen@HIDDEN> writes:

> > As for that regard, what=CA=BCs wrong with, (/ +1.0 0) and (/ -1.0 0)?
>
> Wow, that doesn't error?  It's hard to find a mathematical
> interpretation in which this makes any sense.  IMHO much more weird than
> allowing zero args for `max' and `min'.

I guess this is related to IEEE-754.  I found an explanation here:

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/14682005/why-does-division-by-zero-in-i=
eee754-standard-results-in-infinite-value

Best regards,
Stefan Kangas




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From: Michael Heerdegen <michael_heerdegen@HIDDEN>
To: Dmitry Alexandrov <dag@HIDDEN>
Subject: Re: bug#42644: 28.0.50; Please let max and min accept zero arguments
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Dmitry Alexandrov <dag@HIDDEN> writes:

> What reader syntax would you prefer?

I'm not criticizing the current syntax for the infinities.  It's just
hard to remember them.

> As for that regard, what=CA=BCs wrong with, (/ +1.0 0) and (/ -1.0 0)?

Wow, that doesn't error?  It's hard to find a mathematical
interpretation in which this makes any sense.  IMHO much more weird than
allowing zero args for `max' and `min'.

Michael.




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From: Dmitry Alexandrov <dag@HIDDEN>
To: Michael Heerdegen <michael_heerdegen@HIDDEN>
Subject: Re: bug#42644: 28.0.50; Please let max and min accept zero arguments
In-Reply-To: <87tuxmkhd9.fsf@HIDDEN> (Michael Heerdegen's message of "Sat, 01
 Aug 2020 08:30:42 +0200")
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Michael Heerdegen <michael_heerdegen@HIDDEN> wrote:
> I want to suggest to make the functions `max' and `min' accept zero
> arguments, with
>
>   (max) =3D> negative infinity
>   (min) =3D> positive infinity
>
> That would be mathematically consistent

For _current_ their implementation.

As you know, like most functions that operate on numbers, =E2=80=98min=E2=
=80=99 and =E2=80=98max=E2=80=99 really accept _different_ types of objects=
: integers =E2=80=98fixnums=E2=80=99, IEEE-754 inexact numbers =E2=80=98flo=
nums=E2=80=99, and context-aware buffer positions =E2=80=98markers=E2=80=99=
.  Return value is coerced to the type that is sort of common denominator o=
f types of arguments.  But what should be used if there are none?  Whatever=
 can be the most minimal / maximal now?

But once upon a time Emacs did not support flonums at all, so using that ru=
le the choice for an identity value for =E2=80=98min=E2=80=99 (if we reject=
 the idea to return some marker in some buffer as an absurd) was most-posit=
ive-fixnum.

Note, how this is unlike choosing that (+) =E2=87=92 0 and (*) =E2=87=92 1,=
 than 0.0 and 1.0 resp., because (=3D 0 0.0) and (=3D 1 1.0) while, of cour=
se, (/=3D +1.0e+INF most-positive-fixnum).  And imagine what a mess it woul=
d be, if someone indeed had done this?

In short, I believe, other languages (including kindred ones: Scheme and Co=
mmon Lisp) are absolutely right in treating (max) and (min) as errors.

> and would offer an easier to remember syntax to specify the infinities (a=
t least for mathematicians).  I hate the read syntax suggested in the manua=
l, I have to look it up every single time.

What reader syntax would you prefer?  If Scheme=CA=BCs +inf.0 and -inf.0, t=
hen note, that they are valid symbols in Elisp.  That is, you can perfectly=
 do:

        (defconst +inf.0 +1.0e+INF)
        (defconst -inf.0 -1.0e+INF)

> (at least for mathematicians)

As for that regard, what=CA=BCs wrong with, (/ +1.0 0) and (/ -1.0 0)?


BTW, I am surprised to hear, that IEEE-754-infinities are so much used in E=
lisp.

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To: Michael Heerdegen <michael_heerdegen@HIDDEN>
Subject: Re: bug#42644: 28.0.50; Please let max and min accept zero arguments
References: <87tuxmkhd9.fsf@HIDDEN> <877duiym8g.fsf@HIDDEN>
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 Content preview:  Michael Heerdegen <michael_heerdegen@HIDDEN> writes: > Ok
 - how and where should we define such constant(s)? I think I would > prefer
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Michael Heerdegen <michael_heerdegen@HIDDEN> writes:

> Ok - how and where should we define such constant(s)?  I think I would
> prefer Stefan's suggestion to introduce only one constant named
> "infinity", for no strong reasons.

There's `float-pi', so perhaps `float-infinity' would make sense?

-- 
(domestic pets only, the antidote for overdose, milk.)
   bloggy blog: http://lars.ingebrigtsen.no




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Hello to all,

> I want to suggest to make the functions `max' and `min' accept zero
> arguments
>
>   (max) => negative infinity
>   (min) => positive infinity

thanks for your comments.  More or less everyone seems to prefer the
introduction of constants instead.  I have no objections to solve my
"issue" (solely) in that way.  (And for `seq-min' and `seq-max' my
suggestion would also introduce the problem that the return value would
be undefinable if the given SEQUENCE is empty but a PREDICATE or KEY
function is specified).

Ok - how and where should we define such constant(s)?  I think I would
prefer Stefan's suggestion to introduce only one constant named
"infinity", for no strong reasons.

Thanks,

Michael.




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FWIW, Common Lisp requires at least one arg:

https://www.cs.cmu.edu/Groups/AI/html/cltl/clm/node124.html




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On Sat 01 Aug 2020, Michael Heerdegen wrote:

> I want to suggest to make the functions `max' and `min' accept zero
> arguments, with
>
>   (max) => negative infinity
>   (min) => positive infinity
>
> That would be mathematically consistent, and would offer an easier to
> remember syntax to specify the infinities (at least for mathematicians).
> I hate the read syntax suggested in the manual, I have to look it up
> every single time.  Ironically, most of the time I use it it's the
> initial value for a max or min number sequence folding.

A zero argument call to these functions is more likely to be a bug,
which this proposal would make harder to locate.

If the read syntax is obscure, perhaps it would be better to add new
constants e.g. `posinf' and `neginf'.

    AndyM





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Subject: bug#42644: 28.0.50; Please let max and min accept zero arguments
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 Content preview:  That's funny, I was just thinking about whether to do anything
    about the byte-compiler raising an error when compiling (min) and (max),
   rather than just emitting a warning. Extending min/max with ┬▒Inf as identities
    is indeed attractive and would simplify some code by removing an edge or
   base case. The main argument against the extension is the worry that some
   errors wou [...] 
 
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That's funny, I was just thinking about whether to do anything about the =
byte-compiler raising an error when compiling (min) and (max), rather =
than just emitting a warning.

Extending min/max with =C2=B1Inf as identities is indeed attractive and =
would simplify some code by removing an edge or base case. The main =
argument against the extension is the worry that some errors would =
become hidden or handled inappropriately.

If you find =C2=B11.0e+INF to be hard to remember -- you are not alone =
-- we could add the constants positive-infinity, negative-infinity, or =
just infinity.





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Subject: Re: bug#42644: 28.0.50; Please let max and min accept zero arguments
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Michael Heerdegen <michael_heerdegen@HIDDEN> writes:

> I want to suggest to make the functions `max' and `min' accept zero
> arguments, with
>
>   (max) => negative infinity
>   (min) => positive infinity
>
> That would be mathematically consistent, and would offer an easier to
> remember syntax to specify the infinities (at least for mathematicians).
> I hate the read syntax suggested in the manual, I have to look it up
> every single time.  Ironically, most of the time I use it it's the
> initial value for a max or min number sequence folding.

I'm not sure I'm a fan of this.  Is this common in other languages?

Why not just introduce a new constant `infinity'?  One could then write
`(- infinity)' to get negative infinity.

> `seq-max' and `seq-min' should also support it.

What would the calls look like?

Best regards,
Stefan Kangas




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Hello,

I want to suggest to make the functions `max' and `min' accept zero
arguments, with

  (max) => negative infinity
  (min) => positive infinity

That would be mathematically consistent, and would offer an easier to
remember syntax to specify the infinities (at least for mathematicians).
I hate the read syntax suggested in the manual, I have to look it up
every single time.  Ironically, most of the time I use it it's the
initial value for a max or min number sequence folding.

`seq-max' and `seq-min' should also support it.

TIA,

Michael.


In GNU Emacs 28.0.50 (build 161, x86_64-pc-linux-gnu, GTK+ Version 3.24.20, cairo version 1.16.0)
 of 2020-07-31 built on drachen
Repository revision: 26cf87416ffec74f4ffb05f652c927b75f5ee482
Repository branch: master
Windowing system distributor 'The X.Org Foundation', version 11.0.12008000
System Description: Debian GNU/Linux bullseye/sid





Acknowledgement sent to Michael Heerdegen <michael_heerdegen@HIDDEN>:
New bug report received and forwarded. Copy sent to bug-gnu-emacs@HIDDEN. Full text available.
Report forwarded to bug-gnu-emacs@HIDDEN:
bug#42644; Package emacs. Full text available.
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