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Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
David Kastrup <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 10 Nov 2005 14:46:11 +0100
<[log in to unmask]> (Bernd Raichle's message of "Thu, 10 Nov 2005 13:16:40 +0100")
Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
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Bernd Raichle <[log in to unmask]> writes:

> This was postponed for e-TeX because (a) the implementation will be
> rather tricky for e.g., special nodes and in some contexts where the
> result of real arithmetic can be accessed (e.g., \accent
> constructions) which will lead to implementation dependend
> behaviour.

It is my opinion that all of Knuth's attempt to hide the result of
real arithmetic in TeX are just a source of pain, trouble and
quirkiness, and should stop being a design criterion.  It also affects
the output of the trip test, making it system-dependent.

There are two approaches to get there: either just ignore the system
dependencies (PostScript more or less does that, I think, and has not
terribly suffered from it), or replace all occurences of real
arithmetic by fixed-point arithmetic, and be done.  There are change
files for that purpose already, if I remember correctly: it was shown
that this was feasible.

And indeed, given the rather limited amount of real arithmetic in TeX,
it should be much easier to make it real-free than its cousin Metafont
which managed this feat in spite of _much_ more involved calculations.

The inability to access set glue is a _major_ roadblock for quite a
few applications.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum