An­nounc­ing decimal128.js, an NPM pack­age for IEEE 754 Dec­i­mal128 float­ing-point dec­i­mal num­bers

I’m hap­py to an­nounce decimal128.js, an NPM pack­age I made for sim­u­lat­ing IEEE 754 Dec­i­mal128 num­bers in JavaScript.

(This is my first NPM pack­age. I made it in Type­Script; it’s my first go at the lan­guage.)


Dec­i­mal128 is an IEEE stan­dard for float­ing-point dec­i­mal num­bers. These num­bers aren’t the bi­na­ry float­ing-point num­bers that you know and love (?), but dec­i­mal num­bers. You know, the kind we learn about be­fore we’re even ten years old. In the bi­na­ry world, things like 0.1 + 0.2 aren’t ex­act­ly* equal to 0.3, and cal­cu­la­tions like 0.7 * 1.05 work out to ex­act­ly 0.735. These kinds of num­bers are what we use when do­ing all sorts of every­day cal­cu­la­tions, es­pe­cial­ly those hav­ing to do with mon­ey.

Dec­i­mal128 en­codes dec­i­mal num­bers into 128 bits. It is a fixed-width en­cod­ing, un­like ar­bi­trary-pre­ci­sion num­bers, which, of course, re­quire an ar­bi­trary amount of space. The en­cod­ing can rep­re­sent of num­bers with up to 34 sig­nif­i­cant dig­its and an ex­po­nent of –6143 to 6144. That is a tru­ly vast amount of space if one keeps the in­tend­ed use cas­es in­volv­ing hu­man-read­able and -writable num­bers (read: mon­ey) in mind.


I’m work­ing on ex­tend­ing the JavaScript lan­guage with dec­i­mal num­bers (pro­pos­al-dec­i­mal). One of the de­sign de­ci­sions that has to be made there is whether to im­ple­ment ar­bi­trary-pre­ci­sion dec­i­mal num­bers or to im­ple­ment some kind of ap­prox­i­ma­tion there­of, with Dec­i­mal128 be­ing the main con­tender. As far as I could tell, there was no im­ple­men­ta­tion of Dec­i­mal128 in JavaScript, so I made one.

The in­ten­tion isn’t to sup­port the full Dec­i­mal128 stan­dard, nor should one ex­pect to achieve the per­for­mance that, say, a C/C++ li­brary would give you in user­land JavaScript. (To say noth­ing of hav­ing ma­chine-na­tive dec­i­mal in­struc­tions, which is tru­ly ex­ot­ic.) The in­ten­tion is to give JavaScript de­vel­op­ers some­thing that gen­uine­ly strives to ap­prox­i­mate Dec­i­mal128 for JS pro­grams.

In par­tic­u­lar, the hope is that this li­brary of­fers the JS com­mu­ni­ty a chance to get a feel for what Dec­i­mal128 might be like.

How to use

Just do

$ npm install decimal128

and start us­ing the pro­vid­ed Decimal128 class.


If you find any bugs or would like to re­quest a fea­ture, just open an is­sue and I’ll get on it.