This place is web 1.0 levels of under construction. If you feel this page missing something, please let me know. It is likely in my google drive awaiting migration here—if it is something **not** in my google drive, I would very much like to know about it.

In 2001 an approximation of a reciprocal square root (y = 1/sqrt(x)) leaked to the internet, was attributed to a charismatic hacker, and attained the kind of fame normally reserved for soap opera stars or particularly photogenic zoo animals. This fame allows us to, quite incidentally, follow the normally invisible history of a mathematical approximation over time, across many organizations, and through co-creation of formal knowledge.

Working with oral history interviews, archival material, and source code, this project is an attempt to follow this trace which, far from being born from the brow of a 90s programmer, spans most of the history of the digital computer.

Hang on, isn’t the magic constant “0x5F3759DF”?

That’s right! This page is named 0x5f37642f, Lomont’s optimal constant for the approximation derived without the next step of Newton-Raphson (NR) in mind. Considering the next step of NR, Lomont’s constant is outperformed by 0x5F3759DF, which is the one that leaked to the internet.

Resources on Quake III’s Fast Inverse Square Root

Resources are linked below where links are available and known live. Otherwise copies are hosted on this site as fair use.

Data and code on the FISR

This repository contains code to reproduce versions of the FISR. Also contains data and R code to plot data.

Whitepapers about the Quake III FISR

More recent works which situate the FISR

The Wikipedia article

Jean-Michel Muller’s excellent survey

A “Reciproot” on the Manchester Mark I

On Kahan and K-C Ng’s 1986 version