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Numerical Comparison: "required coercions"
Date: Thu, 26 Mar 87 10:29 EST
From: Guy Steele <gls@Think.COM>
This issue makes me want to restate an earlier proposed model
for the comparison functions:
(? x1 x2 x3 x4 ... xn-1 xn) <=>
(AND (? x1 x2) (? x1 x3) (? x1 x4) ... (? x1 xn-1) (? x1 xn)
(? x2 x3) (? x2 x4) ... (? x2 xn-1) (? x2 xn)
(? x3 x4) ... (? x3 xn-1) (? x3 xn)
(? xn-1 xn))
where "?" may be =, /=, <, >, <=, or >=.
That is, in principle every pair of arguments is compared.
This is the model that justifies the "all different" interpretation for /=,
and it is recognized that in practice the other five operations may
be implemented cleverly through exploitation of transitivity. Well,
maybe such reliance on transitivity is wrong.
I'm a fan of transitivity and also recognize this problem. If this is
n^2 computation is to be the law-of-the-land for the non /= cases, I
would suggest a declaration that tells the compiler that the user is
guaranteeing transitivity so that only a linear number of comparisons is