# [thelist] Just a quick WTF: How to cut off a number afteracertainamount of decimals

Luther, Ron Ron.Luther at hp.com
Tue Mar 28 13:55:00 CST 2006

```Chris noted:
> I often encounter individuals who, when attempting to solve problems,
> only ever consider solutions that they can implement with their
> current knowledge base.

Sounds like another way to say "If all you have is a hammer ..."

And Matt Warden responded:
>>This might sound snide (not intended), but what else can one do?
>>In this case, one would have to at least have the knowledge that
>>exponentiation was a valid operation in the language (or that it
>>was likely to be a valid operation). This knowledge is required
>>for us to decide to put forth effort into research.

I agree with Matt, but I'd take it in a slightly different direction.
I kinda see this as a two-step process; problem recognition and then
implementation.

The first part, recognizing that using exponentiation or modulo arithmetic
or signum functions is a feasible solution to the problem at hand is the
tough part.  It requires problem solving skills, pattern recognition
skills and the experience to be able to apply them, sometimes in a new
or slightly twisted way.  It's tough to teach creativity!

The second part, implementation, often comes down to syntax and with
all the search engines and on-line resources available, that's
easier today than it's ever been.  Of course, sometimes you need a
deeper understanding of the technique in order to implement it if
the tools at hand don't offer the shortcuts you are used to.

[What's a shortcut?  How about Oracle's Trunc(x,y) function that
will truncate any number 'x' to 'y' decimal places?  Doesn't get
any easier than that!]   ;-)

But I think Chris' point may have been more of the ... if you work
with a single tool long enough you become very familiar with it's
limitations and develop 'blinders' to techniques you could use
with other toolsets ... and I would tend to agree that is a danger.

My 2¢,

RonL.

A lot of folks keep 'code snippets' or JS libraries of functions they
have found useful in the past close at hand on a thumb drive or a CD
or a personal web page for easy reference.  Add an index to that to
jog your memory on the problem(s) they were used to solve and you
have a personal 'knowledge base' or what I used to call a
"bag o' tricks".  Keep adding to it when you come across 'neat stuff'
and pretty soon you have a very useful reference.

```