# Golang : Accurate and reliable decimal calculations

Tags :

If you have been programming for a long time, chances are you will be aware of a well-known issue with the floating-point numbers. The "feature" or inaccuracy is that the floating-point numbers cannot be accurately represented by all base-10 decimals. This effects all programming languages and not isolated to Golang.

Let's consider the following code:

`````` package main

import (
"fmt"
)

func main() {

// not accurate
a := 5.2
b := 4.1

fmt.Println(a + b)
fmt.Println((a + b) == 9.3) // will return TRUE

c := 5.2
d := 2.1

fmt.Println(c + d)
fmt.Println((c + d) == 7.3) // will return FALSE

}
``````

and running the program will produce this output:

9.3

true

7.300000000000001

false

As you can see that the calculations are not reliable and inaccurate for the certain decimal values. The inaccuracy is caused by the underlying CPU and the native representation used by Golang (which is faster and optimized for performing a large number of calculations).

To get accuracy in performing decimal calculations, you can use the github.com/shopspring/decimal package.

`````` package main

import (
"fmt"
"github.com/shopspring/decimal"
)

func main() {

// accurate
bDec, _ := decimal.NewFromString("4.1")

cDec, _ := decimal.NewFromString("9.3")

// wrong way to compare

fmt.Println(dDec)

// still wrong way to compare
fmt.Println(dDec == cDec) // will still return FALSE

// proper way to compare
// see https://godoc.org/github.com/shopspring/decimal#Decimal.Cmp

// -1 if cDec <  dDec
// 0 if cDec == dDec
// +1 if cDec > dDec

result := cDec.Cmp(dDec)

fmt.Println(cDec.Cmp(dDec)) // should return 0

if result == 0 {
fmt.Println("true")
}

}
``````

Output:

9.3

false

9.3

false

0

true

For Golang developers that are more comfortable with the standard package such as math/big package.

`````` package main

import (
"fmt"
"math/big"
)

func main() {

f1 := big.NewFloat(5.2)
f2 := big.NewFloat(2.1)

var f3, f4 big.Float

fmt.Println(f3.String())

fmt.Println(f3.Cmp(&f4)) // should return 0 and zero means equal

}
``````

Output:

7.3

0

Depending on your application domain, most developers will use the standard `float`..... however, if you are programming applications for science and engineering domain that demand accuracy. Please do consider testing your application for the decimal "feature" or inaccuracy and use the appropriate package to address the inaccuracy.

References:

https://github.com/golang/go/issues/12127

https://godoc.org/github.com/shopspring/decimal#Decimal.Cmp

https://www.socketloop.com/tutorials/golang-compare-floating-point-numbers