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in C++ I often times use idioms like:

auto shortestDistance = std::numeric_limits<float>::max()
// …
for(auto item : list)
	float dist = determineDistance(item);
	if(dist < shortestDistance)
		// ...
		shortestDistance = dist;
// …

After browsing for a while I could not find any similar constant to std::numeric_limits<float>::max() to get the biggest available number in lua. Is there one? If not, is there a reliable way to build my own function/constant?