We found a possible bug in our Matlab

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Sometimes we encounter a numerical problem e.g:
ans =
Empty matrix: 1-by-0
The cause is most likely numerical as if we add eps to 1.14, it suddenly works for 1.14: >> find([1.1:1e-2:1.2]==1.14+eps)
ans =
Please let us know if you have a fix
  1 Comment
Stephen on 15 Jan 2017
"We found a possible bug in our Matlab"
Aaaah, the one millionth beginner has found this bug in MATLAB! It must be MATLAB's fault! Or perhaps instead today is good day to learn about floating point numbers (and how this is not an bug in MATLAB)?

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Accepted Answer

John D'Errico
John D'Errico on 15 Jan 2017
Edited: John D'Errico on 15 Jan 2017
NO. This is not a bug in MATLAB. This is only a bug in your understanding of floating point numbers and how to work with them.
Essentially, NEVER test for exact equality of floating point numbers (integers and floating point integers are ok.)
John D'Errico
John D'Errico on 15 Jan 2017
Those darn broken giraffes.
This still ahs the same "problem".
As I said, never test for equality of something with a float like 1.14. Your test will probably fail.
Had you made the test as:
find( abs([1.1:1e-2:1.2] - 1.14) < 2*eps(1.14))
ans =
That would have been a valid solution.

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More Answers (2)

Image Analyst
Image Analyst on 15 Jan 2017
Not to beat a dead giraffe, but you can also find the same information about comparing floating point numbers in the FAQ: http://matlab.wikia.com/wiki/FAQ#Why_is_0.3_-_0.2_-_0.1_.28or_similar.29_not_equal_to_zero.3F

Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 15 Jan 2017
This is not a bug. When you use == you are asking for exact comparison right down to the last bit. You are assuming that computations are carried out in decimal so that 0.1 and 0.01 are exactly represented, but calculations are carried out in binary which has no exact representation for 1/10 (exactly the same way that decimal has no exact finite representation for 1/7). The error in representation builds up when you use the : operator, which is not going to be adding exactly 1/100 each time, only a value very close to 1/100. And the starting value 1.1 also cannot be exactly represented in binary.
The result of this is that the : operation is going to produce a number that is close to 1.4 but not exactly equal to it and not exactly equal to how MATLAB converts 1.4 to binary. With == needing exact match, the comparison fails.
format long g
(1.1:0.01:2) - 1.4
and you will see that one of the values is close to 0 but not exactly 0. If the value was exactly there then you would get a 0
You should avoid comparing floating point numbers for exact equality unless you have extracted the numbers from the same array. See ismembertol()
itamar luzon
itamar luzon on 15 Jan 2017
Thanks Jhon, i saw your comment, i tested my answer the same way, i just didn't write it. Anyway i will be carefull next time that i will use flouting point numbers.

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