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From: Vinnie Falco (vinnie.falco_at_[hidden])
Date: 2020-09-25 14:48:13

On Fri, Sep 25, 2020 at 7:07 AM Andrzej Krzemienski via Boost
<boost_at_[hidden]> wrote:
> Are JSON numbers only good for storing int-based identifiers?

The JSON specification is silent on the limits and precision of the
range of numbers. All that we know is that it is a "light-weight data
interchange format." However, we can gather quite a bit of anecdotal
evidence simply by looking at the various languages which have
built-in support for JSON.

>From RFC7159 (

   This specification allows implementations to set limits on the range
   and precision of numbers accepted. Since software that implements
   IEEE 754-2008 binary64 (double precision) numbers [IEEE754] is
   generally available and widely used, good interoperability can be
   achieved by implementations that expect no more precision or range
   than these provide, in the sense that implementations will
   approximate JSON numbers within the expected precision. A JSON
   number such as 1E400 or 3.141592653589793238462643383279 may indicate
   potential interoperability problems, since it suggests that the
   software that created it expects receiving software to have greater
   capabilities for numeric magnitude and precision than is widely

Note the phrase "widely available."

>From <>

    As a practical matter, Javascript integers are limited to about 2^53
    (there are no integers; just IEEE floats).

>From <>

    ...a 64-bit integer cannot be represented in JSON (since JavaScript
    and JSON support integers up to 2^53).

>From <>

    When to use? Only in some special cases. For example when you
    have to create some sort of data processing middleware which has
    to process arbitrary JSON without risk of screwing up. JSON objects
   containing big numbers are rare in the wild.

>From <>

    The JavaScript Number type is a double-precision 64-bit binary format
    IEEE 754 value, like double in Java or C#....When parsing data that has
    been serialized to JSON, integer values falling outside of this range can
    be expected to become corrupted when JSON parser coerces them to
    Number type. A possible workaround is to use String instead.

>From <>

    When serializing to JSON, beware any such limitations in applications
    that may consume your JSON. In particular, it is common for JSON
    numbers to be deserialized into IEEE 754 double precision numbers
    and thus subject to that representation’s range and precision limitations.

I am actually now starting to wonder if even 64-bit integer support
was a good idea, as it can produce numbers which most implementations
cannot read with perfect fidelity.

It is true that there are some JSON implementations which support
arbitrary-precision numbers, but these are rare and all come with the
caveat that their output will likely be incorrectly parsed or rejected
by the majority of implementations. This is quite an undesirable
feature for an "interoperable, data-exchange format" or a vocabulary
type. Support for arbitrary precision numbers would not come without
cost. The library would be bigger, in a way that the linker can't
strip (because of switch statements on the variant's kind). Everyone
would pay for this feature (e.g. embedded) but only a handful of users
would use it.

There is overwhelming evidence that the following statement is false:

    "json::value *needs* to support arbitrary numbers. It's incomplete
without it."


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