You can imagine my surprise when we started getting divide by 0 errors in the app. I checked my unit tests (you do have unit tests for all your code, right?) and sure enough there was a test for divide by 0 so what gives?

public static BigDecimal divide(BigDecimal numerator, BigDecimal denominator) {

if (numerator == null || denominator == null || denominator.equals(BigDecimal.ZERO)) {

return BigDecimal.ZERO;

}

return numerator.divide(denominator, RoundingMode.HALF_UP);

}

Since pi is infinite you need to cut it off somewhere for your calculation. For something that doesn't need to be accurate to a small degree (such as the area of a crop circle down to the square foot) you could just use 3 whereas the area of a machined screw may need to go all the way to 3.1415. In these cases the precision of pi for the crop area is 1 and the precision for the machine screw is 5. I won't get into the full definition of precision but as a rule the number of digits shown past the decimal point determine what the precision is for that number. So, if you have something like 5.25000 then the precision is 6 (5.25 makes 3 and the 3 0's make it 6).

Now, back to my issue above; I determined that I was checking the constant BigDecimal.ZERO (with a precision of 1) to an input value of 0.00 (a precision of 3) and was getting back a value of false for equals() (0 != 0.00). Problem.

Technically, these numbers aren't equal but logically I don't care about the extra precision stored in the second BigDecimal. So, whats a programmer to do? Well, if I were to compare these two numbers the extra precision isn't taken into account (0 is still 0 no matter how accurate you measure it) so if I were to change my equals to check to a compare to:

public static BigDecimal divide(BigDecimal numerator, BigDecimal denominator) {

if (numerator == null || denominator == null || denominator.compareTo(BigDecimal.ZERO) == 0) {

return BigDecimal.ZERO;

}

return numerator.divide(denominator, RoundingMode.HALF_UP);

}

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