Numbers that produce accurate results when used as arguments to trigonometric functions
Author jishnub
4 Stars
Updated Last
2 Years Ago
Started In
March 2020


Build Status Build Status Codecov Coverage Status


This package exports the type PiExpTimes{N,T} that satisfies PiExpTimes{N,T}(x) = x*π^N, and the type PiTimes that is aliased to PiExpTimes{1}. It also provides the constant Pi for convenience, defined as PiTimes(1), that behaves like π except it produces results with higher accuracy in certain trigonometric and algebraic contexts. In most scenarios the numbers Pi and π are interchangable.

julia> Pi^2 == π^2

Expressing mathematical relations in terms of Pi instead of the more cumbersome PiExpTimes is usually cleaner, and is recommended unless it's specifically necessary to do otherwise. One such scenario is exponentiation, more on which is presented below.


The number π is represented as an Irrational type in julia, and may be computed to an arbitrary degree of precision. In normal course of events it is converted to a float when it encounters another number, for example is computed by converting both 2 and π to floats and subsequently carrying out a floating-point multiplication. This is lossy, as both 2 and π may be represented with arbitrary precision. This package delays the conversion of the π to a float, treating it as a common factor in algebraic simplifications. This limits floating-point inaccuracies, especially if the terms multiplying π are exactly representable in binary. As an added advantage, it uses sinpi and cospi wherever possible to avoid having to convert π to a float altogether.



Delaying the conversion of π to a float results in satisfying mathematical expressions such as

julia> (1//3+ (4//3== (5//3false

julia> (1//3)Pi + (4//3)Pi == (5//3)Pi

We may also simplify algebraic expressions involving powers of Pi as

julia> (2Pi^2//3) // (4Pi//5)

julia> Pi^-2 / 4Pi^3

The powers of Pi cancel as expected, and Pi^0 is automatically converted to an ordinary real number wherever possible.

julia> Pi^2 / Pi^2

Expressions involving Pi are automatically promoted to Complex as necessary, eg.

julia> (1+im)Pi^3 / 2Pi^2
0.5*Pi + 0.5*Pi*im

julia> (1+im)Pi^3 / 2Pi^2 * 2/Pi
1.0 + 1.0im

Trigonometric functions

The type PiTimes uses sinpi and cospi under the hood when it is used as an argument to sin and cos. This results in exact results in several contexts where the inaccuracies arise from floating-point conversions.

julia> cos(3π/2)

julia> cos(3Pi/2)

julia> sin(-π)

julia> sin(-Pi)

julia> tan/2)

julia> tan(Pi/2)

We may compute complex exponential exactly:

julia> exp(im*π/2)
6.123233995736766e-17 + 1.0im

julia> exp(im*Pi/2)
0.0 + 1.0im

# Euler's identity : exp(iπ) + 1 == 0
julia> exp(im*π) + 1
0.0 + 1.2246467991473532e-16im

julia> exp(im*Pi) + 1
0.0 + 0.0im

Hyperbolic functions work as expected:

# cosh(ix) = cos(x)
# Should be exactly zero for x = π/2
julia> cosh(im*π/2)
6.123233995736766e-17 + 0.0im

julia> cosh(im*Pi/2)
0.0 + 0.0im


We may convert between types having different exponents without losing accuracy.

julia> convert(PiExpTimes{3},Pi)

julia> convert(PiExpTimes{3},Pi) == Pi

Such an expression may be reduced to a simple form using simplify.

julia> convert(PiExpTimes{3},Pi) |> MultiplesOfPi.simplify

Look out


The type PiExpTimes{N} stores the exponent as a type-parameter, therefore exponentiation is not type-stable in general.

Constructor-abuse to avoid nesting

PiExpTimes{N}(PiExpTimes{M}) is automatically simplified to PiExpTimes{N+M}. This is an abuse of Julia's constructors as the type of the object changes, however this avoids nested expressions that have performance issues.

julia> PiExpTimes{2}(PiExpTimes{3}(4))

julia> PiExpTimes{2}(PiExpTimes{3}(4)) |> typeof

Interactions with π

The irrational number π is usually aggressively converted to PiTimes(1), eg:

julia> PiTimes(π)

This ensures that subsequent calculation would not get promoted to a floating-point type. However if this behavior is not desired then one may specify the type explicitly while constructing the object as

julia> PiTimes{Irrational{:π}}(π)
π = 3.1415926535897...*Pi

However, it is not possible to convert a number to the type PiTimes{Irrational{:π}}.

Floating-point promotion

Addition and subtraction involving mixed exponents of Pi will involve floating-point conversions, and the resulting expression will have the minimum exponent out of the terms being summed.

julia> Pi + 3Pi

julia> Pi + 3Pi^2

This fits with the intuition of the expression being factorized as Pi + 3Pi^2 == Pi*(1 + 3Pi).

Note that π is promoted to Pi in such operations, so we obtain

julia> Pi + π

Conversion vs construction

Constructors for PiExpTimes act as a wrapper and not as a conversion. Conversion to the type retains the value of a number, whereas construction implies multiplication by an exponent of Pi.

julia> PiTimes(1)

julia> convert(PiTimes,1)

Promotion of mixed types

promote and promote_type work differently with types having different exponents. promote converts both the types to one that has the minimum exponent, whereas promote_type leaves the exponent as a free parameter.

julia> promote(Pi,Pi^2) |> typeof

julia> promote_type(typeof(Pi),typeof(Pi^2))
PiExpTimes{N,Int64} where N

This is so that structs of PiTimes — such as complex numbers — do not lose accuracy in conversion. The behaviour is explained below with some examples:

Arrays of mixed types

Storing different exponents of Pi in an array will in general lead to conversion to a supertype that can store all the values.

julia> [Pi,Pi^2] # element type is not concrete
2-element Array{PiExpTimes{N,Int64} where N,1}:

Such an array will not be the most performant, as the element type is not concrete. This may be avoided by specifying a type while creating the array. A concrete type will not be able to store all the numbers losslessly.

julia> PiExpTimes{2,Real}[Pi,Pi^2] # exponent is fixed but Real is not a concrete type
2-element Array{PiExpTimes{2,Real},1}:

julia> PiExpTimes{2,Float64}[Pi,Pi^2] # eltype is concrete, but result loses accuracy
2-element Array{PiExpTimes{2,Float64},1}:

Complex numbers

Complex numbers rely on promote to generate the element type

julia> Complex(Pi,Pi^2)
Pi + Pi*Pi*im

julia> Complex(Pi,Pi^2) |> typeof

In this case converting either the real or imaginary part to a floating-point type would have resulted in a loss of accuracy. Such a type might not be performant, so if a conversion is desired then it might be enforced by specifying the element type while constructing the Complex struct:

julia> Complex{PiTimes{Float64}}(Pi,Pi^2)
Pi + 3.141592653589793*Pi*im

julia> Complex{PiTimes{Float64}}(Pi,Pi^2) |> typeof


Install the package using

pkg> add MultiplesOfPi

Related packages