[Numpy-discussion] Status of Numeric

Perry Greenfield perry at stsci.edu
Tue Jan 20 17:32:06 CST 2004


On Tuesday, January 20, 2004, at 05:18 PM, Colin J. Williams wrote:

> Travis Oliphant wrote:
>
>>
>> Numarray is making great progress and is quite usable for many 
>> purposes.  An idea that was championed by some is that the Numeric 
>> code base would stay static and be replaced entirely by Numarray.
>
> It was my impression that this idea had been generally accepted. It 
> was not just one of the proposals under discussion.
>
I don't think there was ever any formal vote. I think Paul Dubois had 
accepted the idea, others had a more "wait and see" attitude. 
Realistically, I think one can safely say that
as one might expect, those that already were using Numeric probably 
were happy with
its capabilities and that given normal motivations, there would be 
significant inertia
on the part of well established users (those with a lot of code 
already) to switch
over. But since it wasn't quite as usable for our needs, we decided 
that we needed
a new version. We had to develop it to support our needs and would have 
done it
regardless. We hoped that it would be suitable for all uses, and we've 
tried to
involve all in the process as much as possible.

As you might expect, we've devoted most of our attention to meeting our 
needs, but
we have also expended significant energy trying to meet the needs of 
the more
general community (and we will continue to try to do so within our 
resources).
I don't know if it is reasonable to expect that a certain outcome has 
been blessed
by all, nor did most of the existing Numeric users ask us to do this. 
But many did
recognize (as Paul Dubois alluded to) that there was a need to recode 
the array stuff.
Maybe someone could have done a better job of it, but no one else has 
yet (it is
a fair amount of work after all).

We do intend to support all the important packages that Numeric does, 
it make take
some time to get there. I suppose our goal is to eventually attract all 
new users.
We can't, nor should we expect that existing Numeric users will switch 
at our
desire or whim.

> I wonder how many others out there had assumed that, in spite of 
> current speed problems, numarray was the way for the future, and had 
> based their development endeavours on numarray.  I did.
>
> To this relative outsider, there seem to have been three groups 
> involved in efforts to provide Python with numerical  array 
> capabilities, those connected with Numeric, SciPy and numarray.  SciPy 
> would appear to be the most recent addition to the list.
>
Actually, I think it would be more accurate to say that SciPy is an 
attempt to collect a large base of numeric code and integrate it into 
an array package (currently Numeric) rather than to develop a new array 
package. It was started before we started numarray and thus was 
centered around Numeric. They have found occasions to to modify and 
extend Numeric behavior. In that sense, it long has been somewhat 
incompatible with Numeric. (Travis can correct me if I got that wrong.)

> Is there any way that some agrement between these groups can be 
> achieved to restore the hope for a common development path?
>
I would certainly like to, and in any case, we want to adapt scipy to 
be compatible with numarray.

Perry Greenfield





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