[Numpy-discussion] Simple financial functions for NumPy

Anne Archibald peridot.faceted@gmail....
Fri Apr 4 17:31:30 CDT 2008


On 04/04/2008, Alan G Isaac <aisaac@american.edu> wrote:
> On Fri, 4 Apr 2008, Gael Varoquaux apparently wrote:
>  > I really thing numpy should be as thin as possible, so
>  > that you can really say that it is only an array
>  > manipulation package. This will also make it easier to
>  > sell as a core package for developpers who do not care
>  > about "calculator" features.
>
>
> I'm a user rather than a developer, but I wonder:
>  is this true?
>
>  1. Even as a user, I agree that what I really want from
>  NumPy is a core array manipulation package (including
>  matrices).  BUT as long as this is the core of NumPy,
>  will a developer care if other features are available?
>
>  2. Even if the answer to 1. is yes, could the
>  build/installation process include an option not to
>  build/install anything but the core array functionality?
>
>  3. It seems to me that pushing things out into SciPy remains
>  a problem: a basic NumPy is easy to build on any platform,
>  but SciPy still seems to generate many questions.
>
>  4. One reason this keeps coming up is that he NumPy/SciPy
>  split is rather too crude.  If the split were instead
>  something like NumPy/SciPyBasic/SciPyFull/SciPyFull+Kits
>  where SciPyBasic contained only pure Python code (no
>  extensions), perhaps the desired location would be more
>  obvious and some of this recurrent discussion would go away.

It seems to me that there are two separate issues people are talking
about when they talk about packaging:

* How should functions be arranged in the namespaces? numpy.foo(),
scipy.foo(), numpy.lib.financial.foo(), scikits.foo(),
numkitfull.foo()?

* Which code should be distributed together? Should scipy require
separate downloading and compilation from numpy?

The two questions are not completely independent - it would be
horribly confusing to have the set of functions available in a given
namespace depend on which packages you had installed - but for the
most part it's not a problem to have several toplevel namespaces in
one package (python's library is the biggest example of this I know
of).

For the first question, there's definitely a question about how much
should be done with namespaces and how much with documentation. The
second is a different story.

Personally, I would prefer if numpy and scipy were distributed
together, preferably with matplotlib. Then anybody who used numpy
would have available all the scpy tools and all the plotting tools; I
think it would cut down on wheel reinvention and make application
development easier. Teachers would not need to restrict themselves to
using only functions built into numpy for fear that their students
might not have scipy installed - how many students have learned to
save their arrays in unportable binary formats because their teacher
didn't want them to have to install scipy?

I realize that this poses technical problems. For me installing scipy
is just a matter of clicking on a checkbox and installing a 30 MB
package, but I realize that some platforms make this much more
difficult. If we can't just bundle the two, fine. But I think it is
mad to consider subdividing further if we don't have to.

I think python's success is due in part to its "batteries included"
library. The fact that you can just write a short python script with
no extra dependencies that can download files from the Web, parse XML,
manage subprocesses, and save persistent objects makes development
much faster than if you had to forever decide between adding
dependencies and reinventing the wheel. I think numpy and scipy should
follow the same principle, of coming "batteries included".

So in this specific case, yes, I think the financial functions should
absolutely be included; whether they should be included in scipy or
numpy is less important to me because I think everyone should install
both packages.

Anne


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