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From "Mark R. Diggory" <>
Subject Re: [math] Very legitimate reasons to draw up Presicison Unit Tests.
Date Tue, 27 May 2003 02:42:53 GMT

Phil Steitz wrote:
> O'brien, Tim wrote:
>> On Mon, 2003-05-26 at 18:27, Al Chou wrote:
>>> How about adding test cases for analytically exact scenarios that an 
>>> algorithm
>>> should be able to get correct to within machine precision?  I always 
>>> had to
>>> start with those in my research.
>> I think we've found a good reference in the few certified results from
>> NIST.  I'd be interested in knowing if there are other freely available
>> datasets.  Al, you had previously submitted a list of resources, could
>> you do us the favor of submitting those as a patch for developer.xml?
>> Tim
> I agree that we need to pull the references list together. I will also 
> submit some patches for this.
> While I think that certified computations are good when we can do them, 
> I think the following are as important or more:
> * All implementations should be clearly documented, and wherever
>   possible we should use standard algorithms with well-known numerical
>   properties. The matrix LU decomposition discussion is an example of
>   this.
> * Support multiple algorithms when appropriate and let the users decide.
>   For example, we will likely want to add an alternative to Cholesky
>   decomposition and allow the user to choose.
> * Prefer verified computations to use in unit tests, but use whatever we
>   can get our hands on.  It is 1000 times more important to verify that
>   the algorithm has been correctly implemented than to try to verify
>   empirically that our code + whatever the JDK does + special
>   characteristics of the data + our choice of algorithm = numbers
>   accurate to within some multiple of machine epsilon.
> Don't get me wrong -- I agree that numerical accuracy is very important, 
> but unfortumately numerical analysis is not an empirical science. 
> Analysis of algorithms, good functional testing and code review are what 
> will get us where we want to be, IMHO.
> Phil

I agree with everything you've said, but having datasets and expected 
results does make simply testing that the algorithm has been correctly 
implemented, yes they don't neccessarily need to be Certified. Just 
acurate to the current expectations of the algorithm.

p.s. I am working on a Unit test for Univariate that should allow us to 
validate that algorithms for StoredUnivariate and Univariate.


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