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From: Paul A Bristow (pbristow_at_[hidden])
Date: 2007-05-17 05:12:01

>-----Original Message-----
>From: boost-bounces_at_[hidden]
>[mailto:boost-bounces_at_[hidden]] On Behalf Of John Maddock
>Sent: 16 May 2007 18:36
>To: boost_at_[hidden]
>Subject: Re: [boost] [math toolkit] Review results
>Paul A Bristow wrote:
>> If we want it to fail at compile time, IMO it MUST be an option
>> becaue there are occasions when it is vital to be able treat all
>> distributions alike. A typical case is our C# .NET (cue hisses and
>> boos) 'applet' to calculate distribution parameters - for any
>> distribution chosen from a dropdown. (This useful program will be
>> posted somewhere soon).
>Two other options: we could remove the definitions of accessor
>that are undefined for that distribution, and then add our own private
>"catch all" versions when we need them. Or we could add the
>"catch all"
>versions to a separate namespace, and users could bring them
>into scope when needed.

These seem more complicated to me, unless I am misunderstanding, again.
There are only quite few *undefined* accessors (mean, etc).

> Do we have customised (as in meaningful and distribution specific)
>error messages for the current functions though? If so we
>should try and keep them.

The compiler outputs:

I:\Boost-sandbox\math_toolkit\boost/math/distributions/cauchy.hpp(218) : error C2027: use of undefined type
        .\test_cauchy_mean.cpp(47) : see reference to function template instantiation 'RealType boost::math::mean<double>(const
boost::math::cauchy_distribution<RealType> &)' being compiled

but if you click on cauchy.hpp line 218 you see the pretty self-explanatory code below:

template <class RealType>
inline RealType mean(const cauchy_distribution<RealType>& )
{ // There is no mean:
# ifndef BOOST_MSVC
# error Mean of the Cauchy distribution is undefined!
# else
      BOOST_STATIC_ASSERT(sizeof(RealType) == 0);
# endif
   return tools::domain_error<RealType>(
      "The Cauchy distribution does not have a mean: "
      "the only possible return value is %1%.",

>> So to provide an option, a macro seems sensible, perhaps
>The consensus seems to be for making compiler errors the
>default, so maybe
>BOOST_MATH_DEFINE_ALL_ACCESSORS to make them available
>regardless of whether
>they are mathematically defined for the distribution.

OK - I assume this is just the inverse of BOOST_MATH_COMPILE_FAIL_IF_UNDEFINED

Are we *sure* this is the consensus?

IMO providing NaN may be more useful?

>> BOOST_STATIC_ASSERT(false); has been one way of providing a compile
>> time trap and fails with a rather long message, although clicking on
>> the 1st line goes straight to the source code above, so it soon
>> becomes pretty clear.
>It would have to be BOOST_STATIC_ASSERT(sizeof(T) == 0) as
>some compilers
>realise that BOOST_STATIC_ASSERT(false) will always fail and issue a
>diagnostic irrespective of whether the template is instantiated.

OK - but I hope compilers don't get even smarter.

>> For MSVC at least one can use the #error pragma thus
>> # ifdef BOOST_MSVC
>> # error Mean of the Cauchy distribution is undefined!
>> # else
>> # endif
>> #endif
>> and this produces the rather more explicit message:
>> : fatal error C1189: #error : Mean of the Cauchy distribution is
>> undefined!
>Surely that just gives an error whenever you include the header?

Seems to work for MSVC 8.0.

>Or we could simply not provide the definitions of these
>functions at all:
>but then the error messages might be rather cryptic?

A definite step backwards, IMO.


Paul A Bristow
Prizet Farmhouse, Kendal, Cumbria UK LA8 8AB
+44 1539561830 & SMS, Mobile +44 7714 330204 & SMS

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