By Cleve Moler, MathWorks
Before Symbolic Math Toolbox™ was released, all numeric representations and arithmetic in MATLAB® were floating point.
In this article from 1994, Cleve Moler explains how Symbolic Math Toolbox changed that situation by employing a combination of unlimited precision integer and rational arithmetic, fixed-precision hardware floating-point arithmetic, variable-precision software floating-point arithmetic, and symbolic computer algebra. For rational operations on small matrices, the addition of “symbolic” to the menu of ways that MATLAB can represent numbers made it possible to obtain exact answers.
Published 1994 - 92028v00