# [Numpy-discussion] What is the sign of nan?

Charles R Harris charlesr.harris@gmail....
Mon Sep 29 23:02:54 CDT 2008

```On Mon, Sep 29, 2008 at 9:02 PM, David Cournapeau <
david@ar.media.kyoto-u.ac.jp> wrote:

> Charles R Harris wrote:
> >
> > So the proposition is, sign, max, min return nan when any of the
> > arguments is nan.
>
> Note that internally, signbit (the C function) returns an integer.
>

That is the signature of the ufunc. It could be changed... I believe the
actual signbit of nan is undefined but I suppose we could return -1 in the
nan case. That would be a fairly typical error signal for integers.

>
> >
> > Complex numbers are more complicated because we first compare the real
> > parts, then the imaginary. Arguably 1 > 0 + nan*1j.
>
> Really ? Without thinking about the consequences, returning a NaN
> complex would be what I expect, should we go the route comparison with
> NaN returns a NaN.
>

Yeah, I'm headed that way also.

>
> > I propose that the sign of a complex number containing nans should be
> > nan, but I can't decide what should happen with max/min
>
> Did you take a look at:
>
> http://projects.scipy.org/scipy/numpy/wiki/ProperNanHandling
>

Note that in my branch the current behavior is

In [11]: a = np.array([0, np.nan, -1])

In [12]: np.max(a)
Out[12]: nan

In [13]: np.min(a)
Out[13]: nan

This is consistent with regarding nans as propagating errors. I can merge my
branch back into yours if you want to play with these things.

Chuck
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