IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Diagnosing Failure: When is an Estimation Problem Too Large for a PC?

Listed author(s):
  • B. D. McCullough and H. D. Vinod

Sometimes numerical failure of an econometric software package is quite stark: a nonlinear procedure fails to converge; illegal arguments to a function cause an abnormal end; matrices cannot be inverted. Other times a package fails without warning, and these types of failures are particularly pernicious. One such failure in this latter class occurs when a problem simply exhausts the numerical limits of the computer, e.g., attempting to solve a problem that is larger than the computer can handle. In such situations, the user must be conscious that he is nearing the limits of the computer and test carefully to determine whether or not the problem has exhausted the computer's capabilities. Making use of the replication policy of the American Economic Review, we analyze just such a recently-published problem involving an attempt to maximize a 48 parameter nonlinear maximum likelihood problem. We show that the problem, as posed, cannot be reliably solved in double precision on a PC with a 32-bit word.

To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
1. Check below under "Related research" whether another version of this item is available online.
2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

Paper provided by Society for Computational Economics in its series Computing in Economics and Finance 2001 with number 246.

in new window

Date of creation: 01 Apr 2001
Handle: RePEc:sce:scecf1:246
Contact details of provider: Web page:

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sce:scecf1:246. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christopher F. Baum)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.