Why does Python's hash of infinity have the digits of π? Why does Python's hash of infinity have the digits of π? python python

# Why does Python's hash of infinity have the digits of π?

Summary: It's not a coincidence; `_PyHASH_INF` is hardcoded as 314159 in the default CPython implementation of Python, and was picked as an arbitrary value (obviously from the digits of π) by Tim Peters in 2000.

The value of `hash(float('inf'))` is one of the system-dependent parameters of the built-in hash function for numeric types, and is also available as `sys.hash_info.inf` in Python 3:

``>>> import sys>>> sys.hash_infosys.hash_info(width=64, modulus=2305843009213693951, inf=314159, nan=0, imag=1000003, algorithm='siphash24', hash_bits=64, seed_bits=128, cutoff=0)>>> sys.hash_info.inf314159``

(Same results with PyPy too.)

In terms of code, `hash` is a built-in function. Calling it on a Python float object invokes the function whose pointer is given by the `tp_hash` attribute of the built-in float type (`PyTypeObject PyFloat_Type`), which is the `float_hash` function, defined as `return _Py_HashDouble(v->ob_fval)`, which in turn has

``    if (Py_IS_INFINITY(v))        return v > 0 ? _PyHASH_INF : -_PyHASH_INF;``

where `_PyHASH_INF` is defined as 314159:

``#define _PyHASH_INF 314159``

In terms of history, the first mention of `314159` in this context in the Python code (you can find this with `git bisect` or `git log -S 314159 -p`) was added by Tim Peters in August 2000, in what is now commit 39dce293 in the `cpython` git repository.

The commit message says:

Fix for http://sourceforge.net/bugs/?func=detailbug&bug_id=111866&group_id=5470. This was a misleading bug -- the true "bug" was that `hash(x)` gave an error return when `x` is an infinity. Fixed that. Added new `Py_IS_INFINITY` macro to `pyport.h`. Rearranged code to reduce growing duplication in hashing of float and complex numbers, pushing Trent's earlier stab at that to a logical conclusion. Fixed exceedingly rare bug where hashing of floats could return -1 even if there wasn't an error (didn't waste time trying to construct a test case, it was simply obvious from the code that it could happen). Improved complex hash so that `hash(complex(x, y))` doesn't systematically equal `hash(complex(y, x))` anymore.

In particular, in this commit he ripped out the code of `static long float_hash(PyFloatObject *v)` in `Objects/floatobject.c` and made it just `return _Py_HashDouble(v->ob_fval);`, and in the definition of `long _Py_HashDouble(double v)` in `Objects/object.c` he added the lines:

``        if (Py_IS_INFINITY(intpart))            /* can't convert to long int -- arbitrary */            v = v < 0 ? -271828.0 : 314159.0;``

So as mentioned, it was an arbitrary choice. Note that 271828 is formed from the first few decimal digits of e.

Related later commits:

`_PyHASH_INF` is defined as a constant equal to `314159`.

I can't find any discussion about this, or comments giving a reason. I think it was chosen more or less arbitrarily. I imagine that as long as they don't use the same meaningful value for other hashes, it shouldn't matter.

Indeed,

``sys.hash_info.inf``

returns `314159`. The value is not generated, it's built into the source code.In fact,

``hash(float('-inf'))``

returns `-271828`, or approximately -e, in python 2 (it's -314159 now).

The fact that the two most famous irrational numbers of all time are used as the hash values makes it very unlikely to be a coincidence. 