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SHARE Comments Regarding Revision to IEEE 754-1985



As a member of a SHARE installation and a participant in the 754r
list-server, I have been requested by the SHARE organization to pass the
following letter along to the 754r list-server - for consideration at your
July meeting.  It is my understanding that SHARE tried to distribute this
earlier, but that there was some problem with the posting. 

Please respond to the SHARE secretary at the email address at the end of
this note.

  ***

To the Chairman and members of the IEEE 754 revision working group,

As you may know, SHARE is an independent computer user's group founded in
1955 which now has a membership of more than 2,000 organizations.
Collectively, these organizations -- and SHARE -- represent more than 20,000
individual computing specialists.  Our constituency includes many of the top
international corporations (including the majority of the FORTUNE 500),
universities and colleges, municipal through federal government
organizations, and industry-leading consultants.

The SHARE organization wishes to commend those in the working group on their
ongoing development efforts in providing a revision to IEEE 754-1985 that
will include support for a decimal floating point data type and the rules
related to its use.  The portability of data and reproducibility of results
for such data is and will continue to be of great interest to many of our
member installations. 

However, we have recently become aware that certain issues that previously
appeared to be resolved (stabilized) are now being reopened with minimal or
no consensus that there is any defect in the current draft proposals that
needs modification.  Most notably this applies to the requirement for and
the specification of a single hardware encoding for each decimal floating
point data size.

SHARE understands the need for a well defined specification whose data
storage and data manipulation can be implemented on many hardware platforms
and accessed through various software applications - and that this must be
demonstrably possible via efficient and portable methods (whether in
hardware or software).

SHARE has seen no evidence presented to the working group that this is not
possible with the hardware encoding specifications in the current draft and
suggests that unless a consensus that there is a problem to be fixed is
reached within the working group, that its resources and time should be
spent on:

   -- correcting any identified (and commonly agreed upon) defects
   -- clarifying ambiguities (if any) in the current specification
   -- filling any omissions (that cannot be addressed in future
specifications).

In conclusion, SHARE sees no compelling reason to modify the hardware
encoding specifications in the current draft and does see a compelling
reason for the working group to progress the current specification to
completion and approval in the most timely manner possible.  Please finish
the work you have begun so well and provide the world with an approved
revision as soon as possible.

 James D. Michael
  Secretary, SHARE, Inc.
  e-mail: jim_michael@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
 


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