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Re: [Caml-list] I'm sure it's been discussed a few times, but here we go.... single-precision floats
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Date: 2006-03-06 (15:11)
From: Jonathan Harrop <jdh30@j...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] I'm sure it's been discussed a few times, but here we go.... single-precision floats
On Mon Mar  6 12:23 , Asfand Yar Qazi <> sent:
>All the OCaml discussions about floating point precision I have seen so far
>evolve around how fast operations are performed on them - but the critical
>thing for things like collision detection, etc. in games is the amount of data
>that can fit into the CPU cache and be operated on before the cache must be
>reloaded.  Obviously, twice as many single precision floats can fit into any
>CPU's cache than double precision floats.


>We're talking huge dynamic data structures with millions of floating point
>coordinates that all have to be iterated over many times a second - preferably
>by using multithreaded algorithms, so that multiple CPUs can be used
>efficiently.  Since doing this sort of work (i.e. parallel computing) in C++
>is a pain in the **** ('scuse my French :-), I want to learn a language that
>will make it easy and less error-prone - hence my study of OCaml.

Due to OCaml's lack of a concurrent GC, there is no good way to low-level parallelise OCaml programs. 
You can, of course, use message passing between separate OCaml processes to parallelise at a higher 

OCaml's advantages center around the ability to design and use sophisticated data structures easily - 
the precise opposite of iterating over long arrays.

>So, is there any way (I'm thinking similar to 'nativeint') to use floats in
>OCaml to maximize the data that can be stored and operated on in the CPUs 
>cache such that system memory is accessed as little as possible?

Currently, your only choice is to use big arrays of 32-bit floats. There is no other way to store a 
single 32-bit float in an OCaml data structure. Such functionality would be useful in the case of my 
ray tracer, for example:

where efficient use of a big array would require fundamental alterations. However, my AMD64 wastes a 
lot of memory on pointers as well...