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Josh Milthorpe, Alistair P. Rendell
Australian Undergraduate Students' Computing Conference

Interval analysis is an alternative to conventional floating-point computation that offers guaranteed error bounds. Despite this advantage, interval methods have rarely been applied in high performance scientific computing. In part, this is because of the additional cost associated with performing interval operations over the corresponding floating-point operations. The aim of this work is to take a fresh look at interval arithmetic and the viability of using intervals in large scale scientific computations. In this paper we will report on the performance of interval arithmetic on the UltraSPARC architecture, with a focus on the Sun Studio implementation. Different methods of calculating interval results will be discussed, including one novel approach to in- terval multiplication. Based on the benchmark results for different interval implementations, changes to existing interval algorithms are suggested. The hardware modification of floating point units to provide additional architectural support for intervals is also considered. Finally, brief consideration will be given to the application of interval techniques to a real-world problem in computational chemistry, namely the evaluation of pairwise interactions under the Coulomb potential.