Inconsistent equals semantics for BigDecimal between = and .equals


Numbers.equiv for BigDecimal uses compareTo to test equality instead of equals. This means that = and .equals have different results when the scale of the two BigDecimals are different. For example:
=> (= 1.0M 1.00M)
=> (.equals 1.0M 1.00M)

I see that another JIRA ( changed this behavior and asserts it in unit tests, but this seems like very incorrect behavior.

The motivation for this issue is a unit test using to verify that a test message is the same as a message generated with my platform's code. Our downstream customers care about the scale of the decimal, so Clojure's = operator saying two decimals with a different scale are equal caused a difficult-to-detect bug.

For reference, the line causing the issue is here:
And a test asserting this behavior is here:
Javadoc for BigDecimal:


RHEL5, VirtualBox


Alex Miller
June 22, 2015, 10:19 PM

Rich confirmed that the current behavior is desired and we do not plan to make the suggested change.

Andy Fingerhut
June 22, 2015, 9:23 PM

Greg, agreed that there are cases where clojure.core/= and clojure.core/== differ today, e.g. (== 1 1.0) is true but (= 1 1.0) is false.

If you are arguing that Clojure should change so that (= 1.0M 1.00M) is false, but (== 1.0M 1.00M) is still true, that seems reasonable, and perhaps CLJ-1118 went too far by making them not only == but also = (my bad, if so).

June 22, 2015, 8:42 PM

Comment made by: greg.mitchell

Andy - thanks, I didn't realize that. I haven't submitted a Jira to Clojure before. You have a good point, = does more type-coercion work for numerics. I believe that this is qualitatively different because the scale has important informational content in financial and scientific computing. == exists for cases where the type is less relevant, and the linked Jira seems like a reasonable solution for == specifically. As mentioned in my comment, we have tried a couple of ways to re-implement, but none of the easy or obvious solutions work. It relies quite deeply on the value-semantics for collections as implemented by = that short-circuits logic to handle BigDecimals specially.

Alex - Understood, thank you for the update.

Alex Miller
June 22, 2015, 7:29 PM

Greg, I haven't managed to get definitive feedback from Rich on this so I have not been able to update it either way. Certainly CLJ-1118 went through his review prior to being committed.

Andy Fingerhut
June 22, 2015, 7:25 PM

Just to set your expectations, unless the Clojure core team considers a bug or enhancement critical, it is not unusual for a ticket to go for months with no changes or comments.

clojure.core/= and Java .equals are different for numeric arguments in many cases, by design. For example, clojure.core/= is true for numerically equal Byte, Short, Integer, Long, and BigInteger arguments, whereas Java .equals returns false if the types are different. I know this is not the issue you are raising in this ticket – it is just an example of one of many ways in which these things are different from each other.

Have you considered creating a modified version of that compares BigDecimal values in the way you prefer?

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Affects versions