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It only hurts CL as a standard when people start talking about the "spirit"
of the specification as a substitute for precision. Some symbolic algebra
folks like really big numbers, starting at a "few thousand bits" and getting
bigger. Bignums can also be a good representation technique for certain
kinds of data structures (almost like bit vectors, but with different ops
available). Any vagueness on max size of bignums is no more acceptable
than it is for arrays or fixnums or floats, all of which have plenty of
constants defining *their* limits!
I think we should introduce an INTEGER-LENGTH-LIMIT constant which would be
the largest value that INTEGER-LENGTH could return. It should be specifed
to be at least as large as MOST-POSITIVE-FIXNUM, with the usual exhortation
that "Implementors are encouraged to make this limit as large as practicable
without sacrificing performance." :-)