Subject: Re: Distance between two line segments in 3D
>A logically/algorithmically correct algorithm is here:
> The algorithm fails numerically for extraordinarily large
> ranges for the segment end points, e.g. for line segments
> with lengths in the region of 10^8.
> This is so because the SQUARED distance is minimized.
> If the geometry is somewhat normalized - all end points
> are in a cube with edge length 10^4...10^6 - then the algorithm
> is OK for all practical purposes (double precision assumed)
One other thing to mention, when computations are done in
32-bit float, is that on a PC or equivalent desktop computer,
quite a few of the intermediate 32-bit floating-point operations
are actually done in 64-bit or 80-bit internal registers in the FPU.
This tends to make such algorithms a bit more robust.
If you do not have such hardware support, the round-off
errors can bite you very quickly. One of the bug reports I
had gotten (some years ago) was from someone running your
version of the algorithm on an SGI machine, using 32-bit float,
but the intermediate expressions were also computed in 32-bit
float. In its earlier days and by design, Java specs required all
intermediate calculations for 32-bit float be done with 32-bit
float (the illusion of portability).
When reporting the success (or failure) of an algorithm you have
implemented, it is also important to note what hardware you are
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