...one of the most highly
regarded and expertly designed C++ library projects in the
world. — Herb Sutter and Andrei
It is, of course, impossible to please everyone with a list like this.
Some of the criteria we have used are:
(You can easily define your own if found convenient, for example:
FPT one =static_cast<FPT>(42);).
The constants have all been calculated using high-precision software working with up to 300-bit precision giving about 100 decimal digits. (The precision can be arbitrarily chosen and is limited only by compute time).
The minimum accuracy chosen (100 decimal digits) exceeds the accuracy of reasonably-foreseeable floating-point hardware (256-bit) and should meet most high-precision computations.
long double epsilon.
We have not yet been able to check that
all constants are accurate at the full arbitrary
precision, at present 100 decimal digits. But certain key values like
Code written using math constants is easily portable even when using different floating-point types with differing precision.
It is a mistake to expect that results of computations will be identical, but you can achieve the best accuracy possible for the floating-point type in use.
This has no extra cost to the user, but reduces irritating, and often confusing and very hard-to-trace effects, caused by the intrinsically limited precision of floating-point calculations.
A harmless symptom of this limit is a spurious least-significant digit; at worst, slightly inaccurate constants sometimes cause iterating algorithms to diverge wildly because internal comparisons just fail.
See tutorial above for normal use, but this FAQ explains the internal details used for the constants.
Constants are stored as 100 decimal digit values. However, some compilers do not accept decimal digits strings as long as this. So the constant is split into two parts, with the first containing at least 128-bit long double precision (35 decimal digits), and for consistency should be in scientific format with a signed exponent.
The second part is the value of the constant expressed as a string literal, accurate to at least 100 decimal digits (in practice that means at least 102 digits). Again for consistency use scientific format with a signed exponent.
For types with precision greater than a long double, then if T is constructible
T is constructible from a
const char* then it's directly constructed from the string,
otherwise we fall back on lexical_cast to convert to type
(Using a string is necessary because you can't use a numeric constant since
might not have enough digits).
So, for example, a constant like pi is internally defined as
BOOST_DEFINE_MATH_CONSTANT(pi, 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884e+00, "3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510582097494459230781640628620899862803482534211706798214808651e+00");
In this case the significand is 109 decimal digits, ensuring 100 decimal digits are exact, and exponent is zero.
See defining new constants to calculate new constants.
A macro definition like this can be pasted into user code where convenient,
boost/math/constants.hpp if it
is to be added to the Boost.Math library.
Apart from the built-in floating-point types
double, there are several arbitrary
precision floating-point classes available, but most are not licensed for commercial
This is a well-maintained and fully featured library which provides numerous high-precision types, as well as wrappers to other popular libraries like MPFR.
NTL by Victor Shoup has fixed and arbitrary high precision fixed and floating-point types. However none of these are licenced for commercial use.
#include <NTL/quad_float.h> // quad precision 106-bit, about 32 decimal digits. using NTL::to_quad_float; // Less precise than arbitrary precision NTL::RR.
gives a form of quadruple precision, 106-bit significand (but without an extended
exponent range.) With an IEC559/IEEE 754 compatible processor, for example
Intel X86 family, with 64-bit double, and 53-bit significand, using the significands
of two 64-bit doubles, if
std::numeric_limits<double>::digits10 is 16, then we get about twice the
should be 32. (the default
should be about 40). (which seems to agree with experiments). We output constants
(including some noisy bits, an approximation to
by adding 2 or 3 extra decimal digits, so using
Apple Mac/Darwin uses a similar doubledouble 106-bit for
The precision of all
New projects should use Boost.Multiprecision.
Arbitrary precision floating point with NTL class RR, default is 150 bit (about 50 decimal digits) used here with 300 bit to output 100 decimal digits, enough for many practical non-'number-theoretic' C++ applications.
NTL A Library for doing Number Theory is not licenced for commercial use.
This class is used in Boost.Math and is an option when using big_number projects to calculate new math constants.
New projects should use Boost.Multiprecision.
GMP and MPFR have also been used to compute constants, but are licensed under the Lesser GPL license and are not licensed for commercial use.
A review concluded that the way in which the constants were presented did not
meet many peoples needs. None of the methods proposed met many users' essential
requirement to allow writing simply
Many science and engineering equations look difficult to read because function
call brackets can be confused with the many other brackets often needed. All
the methods then proposed of avoiding the brackets failed to meet all needs,
often on grounds of complexity and lack of applicability to various realistic
So the simple namespace method, proposed on its own, but rejected at the first
review, has been added to allow users to have convenient access to
values, but combined with template struct and functions to allow simultaneous
use with other non-built-in floating-point types.
A function mechanism was provided by in previous versions of Boost.Math.
The new mechanism is to permit partial specialization. See Custom Specializing a constant above. It should also allow use with other packages like ttmath Bignum C++ library.
Not here, because physical constants:
Some physical constants may be available in Boost.Units.