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### 16.3 Float Internals

Efficient calculation is the primary aim of GMP floats and the use of whole limbs and simple rounding facilitates this.

`mpf_t` floats have a variable precision mantissa and a single machine word signed exponent. The mantissa is represented using sign and magnitude.

```   most                   least
significant            significant
limb                   limb

_mp_d
|---- _mp_exp --->           |
_____ _____ _____ _____ _____
|_____|_____|_____|_____|_____|

<-------- _mp_size --------->

```

The fields are as follows.

`_mp_size`

The number of limbs currently in use, or the negative of that when representing a negative value. Zero is represented by `_mp_size` and `_mp_exp` both set to zero, and in that case the `_mp_d` data is unused. (In the future `_mp_exp` might be undefined when representing zero.)

`_mp_prec`

The precision of the mantissa, in limbs. In any calculation the aim is to produce `_mp_prec` limbs of result (the most significant being non-zero).

`_mp_d`

A pointer to the array of limbs which is the absolute value of the mantissa. These are stored “little endian” as per the `mpn` functions, so `_mp_d` is the least significant limb and `_mp_d[ABS(_mp_size)-1]` the most significant.

The most significant limb is always non-zero, but there are no other restrictions on its value, in particular the highest 1 bit can be anywhere within the limb.

`_mp_prec+1` limbs are allocated to `_mp_d`, the extra limb being for convenience (see below). There are no reallocations during a calculation, only in a change of precision with `mpf_set_prec`.

`_mp_exp`

The exponent, in limbs, determining the location of the implied radix point. Zero means the radix point is just above the most significant limb. Positive values mean a radix point offset towards the lower limbs and hence a value >= 1, as for example in the diagram above. Negative exponents mean a radix point further above the highest limb.

Naturally the exponent can be any value, it doesn’t have to fall within the limbs as the diagram shows, it can be a long way above or a long way below. Limbs other than those included in the `{_mp_d,_mp_size}` data are treated as zero.

The `_mp_size` and `_mp_prec` fields are `int`, although the `mp_size_t` type is usually a `long`. The `_mp_exp` field is usually `long`. This is done to make some fields just 32 bits on some 64 bits systems, thereby saving a few bytes of data space but still providing plenty of precision and a very large range.

The following various points should be noted.

Low Zeros

The least significant limbs `_mp_d` etc can be zero, though such low zeros can always be ignored. Routines likely to produce low zeros check and avoid them to save time in subsequent calculations, but for most routines they’re quite unlikely and aren’t checked.

Mantissa Size Range

The `_mp_size` count of limbs in use can be less than `_mp_prec` if the value can be represented in less. This means low precision values or small integers stored in a high precision `mpf_t` can still be operated on efficiently.

`_mp_size` can also be greater than `_mp_prec`. Firstly a value is allowed to use all of the `_mp_prec+1` limbs available at `_mp_d`, and secondly when `mpf_set_prec_raw` lowers `_mp_prec` it leaves `_mp_size` unchanged and so the size can be arbitrarily bigger than `_mp_prec`.

Rounding

All rounding is done on limb boundaries. Calculating `_mp_prec` limbs with the high non-zero will ensure the application requested minimum precision is obtained.

The use of simple “trunc” rounding towards zero is efficient, since there’s no need to examine extra limbs and increment or decrement.

Bit Shifts

Since the exponent is in limbs, there are no bit shifts in basic operations like `mpf_add` and `mpf_mul`. When differing exponents are encountered all that’s needed is to adjust pointers to line up the relevant limbs.

Of course `mpf_mul_2exp` and `mpf_div_2exp` will require bit shifts, but the choice is between an exponent in limbs which requires shifts there, or one in bits which requires them almost everywhere else.

Use of `_mp_prec+1` Limbs

The extra limb on `_mp_d` (`_mp_prec+1` rather than just `_mp_prec`) helps when an `mpf` routine might get a carry from its operation. `mpf_add` for instance will do an `mpn_add` of `_mp_prec` limbs. If there’s no carry then that’s the result, but if there is a carry then it’s stored in the extra limb of space and `_mp_size` becomes `_mp_prec+1`.

Whenever `_mp_prec+1` limbs are held in a variable, the low limb is not needed for the intended precision, only the `_mp_prec` high limbs. But zeroing it out or moving the rest down is unnecessary. Subsequent routines reading the value will simply take the high limbs they need, and this will be `_mp_prec` if their target has that same precision. This is no more than a pointer adjustment, and must be checked anyway since the destination precision can be different from the sources.

Copy functions like `mpf_set` will retain a full `_mp_prec+1` limbs if available. This ensures that a variable which has `_mp_size` equal to `_mp_prec+1` will get its full exact value copied. Strictly speaking this is unnecessary since only `_mp_prec` limbs are needed for the application’s requested precision, but it’s considered that an `mpf_set` from one variable into another of the same precision ought to produce an exact copy.

Application Precisions

`__GMPF_BITS_TO_PREC` converts an application requested precision to an `_mp_prec`. The value in bits is rounded up to a whole limb then an extra limb is added since the most significant limb of `_mp_d` is only non-zero and therefore might contain only one bit.

`__GMPF_PREC_TO_BITS` does the reverse conversion, and removes the extra limb from `_mp_prec` before converting to bits. The net effect of reading back with `mpf_get_prec` is simply the precision rounded up to a multiple of `mp_bits_per_limb`.

Note that the extra limb added here for the high only being non-zero is in addition to the extra limb allocated to `_mp_d`. For example with a 32-bit limb, an application request for 250 bits will be rounded up to 8 limbs, then an extra added for the high being only non-zero, giving an `_mp_prec` of 9. `_mp_d` then gets 10 limbs allocated. Reading back with `mpf_get_prec` will take `_mp_prec` subtract 1 limb and multiply by 32, giving 256 bits.

Strictly speaking, the fact the high limb has at least one bit means that a float with, say, 3 limbs of 32-bits each will be holding at least 65 bits, but for the purposes of `mpf_t` it’s considered simply to be 64 bits, a nice multiple of the limb size.

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