[Numpy-discussion] Newbie Question, Probability

A. M. Archibald peridot.faceted at gmail.com
Thu Dec 21 12:41:51 CST 2006


On 21/12/06, Alan G Isaac <aisaac at american.edu> wrote:
> A Dijous 21 Desembre 2006 05:59, A. M. Archibald escrigué:
> > It seems to me that numpy should include only tools for
> > basic calculations on arrays of numbers. The ufuncs,
> > simple wrappers (dot, for example). Anything that requires
> > nontrivial amounts of math (matrix inversion, statistical
> > functions, generating random numbers from exponential
> > distributions, and so on) should go in scipy.
>
> As a user, I suggest that this becomes a reasonable goal
> when up to date SciPy installers are maintained for all
> target platforms.  Unless you wish to exclude everyone who
> is intimidated when installation is less than trivial...
>
> Until then, I suggest, the question of the proper
> functionality bundle with NumPy remains open.  Of course as
> a user I do not pretend to resolve such a question---recall
> that I mentioned the slippery slope in my post---but I do
> object to it being dismissed as "silly" when I offered
> a straightforward explanation.
>
> It is well understood that the current view of the
> developers is that if anything too much is already in NumPy.
> Any user comments are taking place within that context.

Just to be clear: I am not a developer. I am a user who is frustrated
with the difficulty of telling whether to look for a given feature in
numpy or in scipy. (I have also never really had much difficulty
installing scipy either from the packages in one of several linux
distribution or compiling it from scratch.)

I suppose the basic difference of opinions here is that I think numpy
has already taken too many steps down the slippery slope. Also I don't
think 20 megabytes is enough disk space to care about, and I think it
is better in the long term to encourage the scipy developers to get
the installers working than it is to jam all kinds of scientific
functionality into this array package to avoid having to install the
scientific computing package.

> PS A question: is it a good thing if more students start
> using NumPy *now*?  It looks to me like building community
> size is an important current goal for NumPy.  Strip it down
> like you suggest and aside from Windows users (and Macs are
> increasingly popular among my students) you'll have only the
> few that are not intimidated by building SciPy (which still
> has no intaller for Python 2.5).

I didn't have to build scipy (though I have, it's not hard), and I
don't use Windows.

But no, I don't think it can be stripped down yet; the backward
compatibility issue is currently important. I think moving scientific
functionality from scipy to numpy is a step in the wrong direction,
though.

A. M. Archibald


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