* Proposal for Division Operators in Scheme -*- outline -*-
** Abstract
This is a proposal for a reasonably complete set of operators to
compute division yielding integral quotients with remainders. This
proposal is undoubtedly excessive, and should not be taken too
seriously; it is as much a summary of information as it is a proposal.
** Rationale
Most programming languages provide at least one operation for division,
and sometimes related operations for computing integral quotients and
remainders. (The author is aware of one (fortunately today defunct)
programming language that provides addition, subtraction, and division,
with multiplication notably absent, being expressible as division.)
Everyone agrees that a pair of operators for computing integral
quotients q and remainders r from division of dividend a by divisor n,
should satisfy the relations
(1) a = n q + r,
(2) |r| < |n|, and
(3) q is an integer.
Such a pair of operators will be called a division operator pair. Many
programming languages provide only one division operator pair. Some,
such as C, leave the semantics unspecified when either or both of the
dividend and the divisor is negative. If the dividend and divisor are
both integers, then the remainder will also be an integer.
To describe the semantics of a division operator pair, it suffices to
define the integer q, from which r can be uniquely derived, by the
relation
r = a - n q,
provided that this choice of q induce an r satisfying |r| < |n|. For
an extensive discussion of the five division operator pairs proposed
here, and some broken but standardized operator pairs that fail to
satisfy properties (1)-(3), see Raymond T. Boute, `The Euclidean
Definition of the Functions DIV and MOD', ACM TOPLAS 14(2), April 1992,
pp. 127-144.
Unfortunately, most programming languages give nondescript names such
as DIV(IDE), QUOT(IENT), MOD(ULO), and REM(AINDER) to these operations.
The language should make clear to programmers what division operations
their programs are performing, especially when negative dividends and
divisors can arise, but perhaps may not often arise during testing.
** Specification
For each of five division operator pairs -- floor, ceiling, truncate,
round, and Euclidean --, there are three procedures: one, named
/, to compute the division and to return both quotient and
remainder as multiple return values; one, named -QUOTIENT,
one to compute the quotient; and one, named -REMAINDER, to
compute the remainder. Each division operator pair is specified by
defining the quotient q in terms of the dividend a and the divisor n.
Tacitly the remainder r is as above: r = a - n q. The consequences of
supplying zero as a divisor to any of these procedures are undefined.
(FLOOR/ )
(FLOOR-QUOTIENT )
(FLOOR-REMAINDER )
q = floor (a / n)
Thus r shares the sign of the divisor.
(CEILING/ )
(CEILING-QUOTIENT )
(CEILING-REMAINDER )
q = ceiling (a / n)
Thus r has the sign opposite the divisor's.
(TRUNCATE/ )
(TRUNCATE-QUOTIENT )
(TRUNCATE-REMAINDER )
q = truncate (a / n)
Thus r shares the sign of dividend. However, by any divisor n, the
quotient of +1, 0, or -1 is 0; that is, three contiguous dividends by
a common divisor share a common quotient. None of the other division
operator pairs exhibits this property.
(ROUND/ )
(ROUND-QUOTIENT )
(ROUND-REMAINDER )
q = round (a / n), where round rounds to the nearest integer,
breaking ties by choosing the nearest even integer.
(EUCLIDEAN/ )
(EUCLIDEAN-QUOTIENT )
(EUCLIDEAN-REMAINDER )
If n > 0, q = floor (a / n); if n < 0, q = ceiling (a / n).
This division operator pair satisfies the slightly stronger property
(2') 0 <= r < |n|,
used often in mathematics. Thus, for example, (EUCLIDEAN-REMAINDER
) is always a valid index into a vector whose
length is at least . This division operator pair is so
named because it is the subject of the Euclidean division algorithm.
** Related
The R5RS gives the names QUOTIENT and REMAINDER to the truncating
division operator pair, and the name MODULO to the remainder half of
the flooring division operator pair. For all these three procedures in
the R5RS, the dividend may be any integer, and the divisor may be any
nonzero integer.
The R6RS gives the names DIV and MOD to the Euclidean division operator
pair, and the names DIV0 and MOD0 to a division operator pair not
listed here that satisfies the peculiar property
(2'') -|floor (n / 2)| <= r <= |floor (n / 2)|.
When n is a power of 2, say 2^k for some k, this reduces to
-2^(k - 1) <= r < 2^(k - 1).
Computer scientists will immediately recognize this as the interval of
integers representable in two's-complement with (k - 1) bits. What
useful function this division operator pair serves, however, the author
does not know. For all four of these procedures, the dividend may be
any real number, and the divisor may be any nonzero real number.
Common Lisp provides four integral division functions, FLOOR, CEILING,
TRUNCATE, and ROUND; and two remainder functions, MOD and REM. The
division functions comprise both the quotient and remainder of a
division operator pair, and return them as two values, of which the
latter, the remainder, may be implicitly ignored in Common Lisp. The
divisor argument is optional in Common Lisp's integral division
functions; if omitted, it is taken to be 1. MOD is the remainder half
of the flooring division operator pair; REM is the premainder half of
the truncating division operator pair. Common Lisp does not provide
any part of the Euclidean division operator pair.
For all six of these functions in Common Lisp, the dividend may be any
real number, and the divisor may be any nonzero real number. Common
Lisp also provides four extra functions FFLOOR, FCEILING, FTRUNCATE,
and FROUND, which differ from their F-less variants only in floating-
point contagion rules.
** Issues
Zero as a divisor aside, what should the domain of the proposed
procedures be? Obviously they should all share a common domain, but
should the proposed procedures accept any real numbers, or only
integers, or only exact integers? If inexact arguments are provided,
what exactness should the results exhibit?
Is the ceiling division operation useful?
** Copying
Copyright (c) 2009, Taylor R. Campbell.
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article are permitted
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This is a draft. If you wish to derive a work from this article,
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