MySQL 5.5.32, Oracle 11g

MySQL returns strange results for queries involving mod() with noninteger moduli. Why is this?

I have a column defined thus:

| Field  | Type         | Null | Key | Default | Extra |
| col    | double(15,6) | YES  |     | NULL    |       |

I have selected a known value from that column to use for testing - 5850. If I query the table, testing that column for whole numbers, I get these results:

mysql> SELECT thing_id,name FROM table WHERE col=5850 AND mod(col,1) != 0;
Empty set (1.07 sec)

This is expected. But this is not:

mysql> SELECT thing_id,name FROM table WHERE col=5850 AND mod(col,.1) != 0;
| thing_id  | name      |
|   4444444 | some      |
|   4444445 | names     |
|  55555555 | go        |
|  55555556 | here      |
416 rows in set (1.07 sec)

The same results from substituting col MOD .1 and col % .1 so it has to do with the computation not the semantics.

Compare this with the behavior of Oracle (using SQL Developer if that matters), where the type of col is NUMBER:

SELECT thing_id,name FROM table WHERE col=5850 AND mod(col,.1) != 0;
thing_id    name

The precision on the MySQL column seems to make this difference, but I don't understand how. Conceptually, shouldn't integer_value % .1 = 0?


1 Answer 1


I will start with a link: What Every Programmer Should Know About Floating-Point Arithmetic.

In short, float-point arithmetic types, like the float and double mysql types should never be used for precise arithmetic. And your col mod 0.1 is trying to do exactly that, a precise arithmetic check. It is trying to find if the value in col is an exact multiple of 0.1. And it fails miserably, as it is obvious from your results.

The solution is to use a fixed type, like decimal(m, n) to do these types of checks.

As for why you got different results in Oracle, it's because you used NUMBER which is implemented differently (with decimal precision). The equivalents in Oracle of float and double are BINARY_FLOAT and BINARY_DOUBLE and use binary precision. See the notes in Oracle docs: Overview of Numeric Datatypes:

Oracle Database provides two numeric datatypes exclusively for floating-point numbers: BINARY_FLOAT and BINARY_DOUBLE. They support all of the basic functionality provided by the NUMBER datatype. However, while NUMBER uses decimal precision, BINARY_FLOAT and BINARY_DOUBLE use binary precision. This enables faster arithmetic calculations and usually reduces storage requirements.

BINARY_DOUBLE and BINARY_FLOAT implement most of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Standard for Binary Floating-Point Arithmetic, IEEE Standard 754-1985 (IEEE754).

If you insist to use double (I see no reason why), a few more tests with the mod operator/function in mysql, reveals that:

When you use integers for the arguments, say you do x mod K, the result is always an integer between 0 and K-1. The expected mathematical behaviour.

When you use floats/doubles, say you do x mod K, the result is any number from 0.0 to K included. (as your tests which show 5850.0 mod 0.1 to result in 0.1). I haven't done millions of tests, so there may be cases where the result can even be larger than K! Floating-point arithmetic can give weird results.

So, a workaround (which may not always work!) would be to use this condition:

( mod(col, 0.1) <> 0.0  AND  mod(col, 0.1) <> 0.1 )

To be honest, I feel sad I even made the workaround suggestion. Please read again the What Every Programmer Should Know About Floating-Point Arithmetic and don't use the workaround.

Use fixed-precision types for precision arithmetic operations.


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