2016 - September
Unums 2.0: An Interview with John L. Gustafson
by Walter Tichy
In an earlier interview (April 2016), Ubiquity spoke with John Gustafson about the unum, a new format for floating point numbers. The unique property of unums is that they always know how many digits of accuracy they have. Now Gustafson has come up with yet another format that, like the unum 1.0, always knows how accurate it is. But it also allows an almost arbitrary mapping of bit patterns to the reals. In doing so, it paves the way for custom number systems that squeeze the maximum accuracy out of a given number of bits. This new format could have prime applications in deep learning, big data, and exascale computing.