Stochastic Rounding: Implementation, Error Analysis, and Applications

Matteo Croci, Massimiliano Fasi, Nicholas Higham, Theo Mary, Mantas Mikaitis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Stochastic rounding randomly maps a real number x to one of the two nearest values in a finite precision number system. The probability of choosing either of these two numbers is 1 minus their relative distance to x. This rounding mode was first proposed for use in computer arithmetic in the 1950s and it is currently experiencing a resurgence of interest. If used to compute the inner product of two vectors of length n in floating-point arithmetic, it yields an error bound with constant √nu with high probability, where u is the unit roundoff. This is not necessarily the case for round to nearest, for which the worstcase error bound has constant nu. A particular attraction of stochastic rounding is that, unlike round to nearest, it is immune to the phenomenon of stagnation, whereby a sequence of tiny updates to a relatively large quantity is lost. We survey stochastic rounding by discussing its mathematical properties and probabilistic error analysis, its implementation, and its use in applications, with a focus on machine learning and the numerical solution of differential
Original languageEnglish
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 4 Feb 2022


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