Really? Negative zero?!

double Vector2D::GetFacingAngle(const Vector2D& target, const Vector2D& source) {
    a2de::Vector2D facingVec(Vector2D(source) - Vector2D(target));

    //Negating 'y' argument to account for flipped nature of 'y' screen coordinates.
    double result = std::atan2(-facingVec.GetY(), facingVec.GetX());

    //Which causes -0.0 as a possible result when source is right of target at the same 'y' coordinate.
    if(a2de::Math::IsEqual(result, -0.0)) return 0.0;
    return result;

Is this a common behavior? (Similar to subtracting 'y' coordinates for 'up' movement in screen coordinates contrary to Cartesian coordinates.)

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ BTW, you shouldn't need to care whether it comes out negative zero or positive zero. Any further floating point math you do on the result should work correctly anyway. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 7, 2012 at 0:12
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It doesn't matter at all, because -0.0 == 0.0 according to IEEE 754 \$\endgroup\$ Aug 7, 2012 at 11:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MaikSemder From an aesthetic standpoint it does (like...displaying the angle to the screen) \$\endgroup\$
    – Casey
    Aug 7, 2012 at 12:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Casey I see, no reason to touch the math code though. The math code works fine. This is a GUI problem. Make the values user friendly in the UI code before you show it on screen, rather than polluting the basic math code with unnecessary comparisons. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 7, 2012 at 12:42

1 Answer 1


What you're seeing is a signed zero, which is a possibility in certain systems of number representation, including the IEEE standard used for C++ floating point representation, even though it isn't really a thing in "ordinary" mathematics.

The link contains some notes on behavior and handling of the occurrence, although beyond that it's not entirely clear to me what you're asking, specifically -- it's not a bug with atan2 though. In fact, the wiki article on the function notes that the relevant Intel assembly instruction (FPATAN), which you're likely generating here, will produce a negative zero when first parameter in negative zero but the second is positive zero. Your explicit negation of your vector's Y component could easily produce such a scenario.


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