Accountants, Finance, Language

Henry Spencer henry at utzoo.UUCP
Tue Dec 4 04:09:51 AEST 1984

> ...  I hate to break it to you, but as was pointed out on the
> net a week and a half ago, the financial people have heard of binary, and long
> ago.  They use it when it's appropriate.  They don't when it's not.

You mean, they use it when their preconceptions say it's appropriate, and
scorn it when their preconceptions say it's not.  Last I heard, business
types using the big Burroughs machines don't seem to mind that there is
no BCD on the machine at all, and their COBOL compilers are doing all the
arithmetic in binary.

> ...  The original article was pointing
> out that BCD is the optimum representation for a lot of types (a point
> which has yet to be successfully rebutted by the know-it-alls) and such a
> type might be useful in C.

The original article was *claiming* that BCD is the optimum representation;
most of us think the case made for it is so poor that it's hardly worth
trying to rebut.

There are many things that might be useful in C.  Far too many.

> Contrary to popular belief, the financial
> community has developed one or two things that have found their way into what
> egotists would like to think is "mainstream" computer science.  When I got
> my degree, database was a joke.  It certainly isn't today.

So what does this have to do with BCD?  When I got *my* degrees, BCD was a
joke.  It still is.

> A lot of modern databases (e.g., Ingres, Unify) are written in C.  And they
> have to manipulate financial data types in an efficient representation.  A
> BCD type (or at least a standard BCD subroutine package) would help them a lot.

A standard extended-precision-integer package would probably suffice, and
whether it used BCD or binary representation would be (and should be!) an
irrelevant implementation decision.
				Henry Spencer @ U of Toronto Zoology

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