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Maxing out Google Calculator

Brian M. [PersonRank 10]

Monday, November 20, 2006
16 years ago2,603 views

I previously posted when I found that the largest number you could use in Google Calculator is 2^1024 [1]. This is the smallest number with exactly n divisors [2], where n is the answer to life the universe and everything. The result of a search for the most precise form of that number that Google would accept is 1.79769313486231580e+308 at Everything2 [3]. At the time, Google Calculator didn't like working with a very precise decimal representation, but now it is just fine with using 307 out of the 308 digits! [4] It will not allow you to work with the binary representation of this number as it is too long (1,022 digits).

At this point I wondered why there is such a limitation for the scientific notation when there is a virtually unbounded decimal representation. I believe the answer to this question is that 1.79769313486231580e+308 is the largest number you can fit in a C++ double, and that python supports arbitrarily long numbers in its long data type. Certain routines would have to be rewritten using python's long data type in order to support a more precise representation in scientific notation. This is just a WAG :) [6]


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