[Numpy-discussion] consensus (was: NA masks in the next numpy release?)

Charles R Harris charlesr.harris@gmail....
Sat Oct 29 14:41:48 CDT 2011


On Sat, Oct 29, 2011 at 1:26 PM, Matthew Brett <matthew.brett@gmail.com>wrote:

> Hi,
>
> On Sat, Oct 29, 2011 at 12:19 PM, Charles R Harris
> <charlesr.harris@gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> >
> > On Sat, Oct 29, 2011 at 1:04 PM, Matthew Brett <matthew.brett@gmail.com>
> > wrote:
> >>
> >> Hi,
> >>
> >> On Sat, Oct 29, 2011 at 3:26 AM, Ralf Gommers
> >> <ralf.gommers@googlemail.com> wrote:
> >> >
> >> >
> >> > On Sat, Oct 29, 2011 at 1:37 AM, Matthew Brett <
> matthew.brett@gmail.com>
> >> > wrote:
> >> >>
> >> >> Hi,
> >> >>
> >> >> On Fri, Oct 28, 2011 at 4:21 PM, Ralf Gommers
> >> >> <ralf.gommers@googlemail.com> wrote:
> >> >> >
> >> >> >
> >> >> > On Sat, Oct 29, 2011 at 12:37 AM, Matthew Brett
> >> >> > <matthew.brett@gmail.com>
> >> >> > wrote:
> >> >> >>
> >> >> >> Hi,
> >> >> >>
> >> >> >> On Fri, Oct 28, 2011 at 3:14 PM, Charles R Harris
> >> >> >> <charlesr.harris@gmail.com> wrote:
> >> >> >> >>
> >> >> >>
> >> >> >> No, that's not what Nathaniel and I are saying at all. Nathaniel
> was
> >> >> >> pointing to links for projects that care that everyone agrees
> before
> >> >> >> they go ahead.
> >> >> >
> >> >> > It looked to me like there was a serious intent to come to an
> >> >> > agreement,
> >> >> > or
> >> >> > at least closer together. The discussion in the summer was going
> >> >> > around
> >> >> > in
> >> >> > circles though, and was too abstract and complex to follow.
> Therefore
> >> >> > Mark's
> >> >> > choice of implementing something and then asking for feedback made
> >> >> > sense
> >> >> > to
> >> >> > me.
> >> >>
> >> >> I should point out that the implementation hasn't - as far as I can
> >> >> see - changed the discussion.  The discussion was about the API.
> >> >>
> >> >> Implementations are useful for agreed APIs because they can point out
> >> >> where the API does not make sense or cannot be implemented.  In this
> >> >> case, the API Mark said he was going to implement - he did implement
> -
> >> >> at least as far as I can see.  Again, I'm happy to be corrected.
> >> >
> >> > Implementations can also help the discussion along, by allowing people
> >> > to
> >> > try out some of the proposed changes. It also allows to construct
> >> > examples
> >> > that show weaknesses, possibly to be solved by an alternative API.
> Maybe
> >> > you
> >> > can hold the complete history of this topic in your head and
> comprehend
> >> > it,
> >> > but for me it would be very helpful if someone said:
> >> > - here's my dataset
> >> > - this is what I want to do with it
> >> > - this is the best I can do with the current implementation
> >> > - here's how API X would allow me to solve this better or simpler
> >> > This can be done much better with actual data and an actual
> >> > implementation
> >> > than with a design proposal. You seem to disagree with this statement.
> >> > That's fine. I would hope though that you recognize that concrete
> >> > examples
> >> > help people like me, and construct one or two to help us out.
> >> That's what use-cases are for in designing APIs.  There are examples
> >> of use in the NEP:
> >>
> >> https://github.com/numpy/numpy/blob/master/doc/neps/missing-data.rst
> >>
> >> the alterNEP:
> >>
> >> https://gist.github.com/1056379
> >>
> >> and my longer email to Travis:
> >>
> >>
> >>
> http://article.gmane.org/gmane.comp.python.numeric.general/46544/match=ignored
> >>
> >> Mark has done a nice job of documentation:
> >>
> >> http://docs.scipy.org/doc/numpy/reference/arrays.maskna.html
> >>
> >> If you want to understand what the alterNEP case is, I'd suggest the
> >> email, just because it's the most recent and I think the terminology
> >> is slightly clearer.
> >>
> >> Doing the same examples on a larger array won't make the point easier
> >> to understand.  The discussion is about what the right concepts are,
> >> and you can help by looking at the snippets of code in those
> >> documents, and deciding for yourself whether you think the current
> >> masking / NA implementation seems natural and easy to explain, or
> >> rather forced and difficult to explain, and then email back trying to
> >> explain your impression (which is not always easy).
> >>
> >> >> >> In saying that we are insisting on our way, you are saying,
> >> >> >> implicitly,
> >> >> >> 'I
> >> >> >> am not going to negotiate'.
> >> >> >
> >> >> > That is only your interpretation. The observation that Mark
> >> >> > compromised
> >> >> > quite a bit while you didn't seems largely correct to me.
> >> >>
> >> >> The problem here stems from our inability to work towards agreement,
> >> >> rather than standing on set positions.  I set out what changes I
> think
> >> >> would make the current implementation OK.  Can we please, please have
> >> >> a discussion about those points instead of trying to argue about who
> >> >> has given more ground.
> >> >>
> >> >> > That commitment would of course be good. However, even if that were
> >> >> > possible
> >> >> > before writing code and everyone agreed that the ideas of you and
> >> >> > Nathaniel
> >> >> > should be implemented in full, it's still not clear that either of
> >> >> > you
> >> >> > would
> >> >> > be willing to write any code. Agreement without code still doesn't
> >> >> > help
> >> >> > us
> >> >> > very much.
> >> >>
> >> >> I'm going to return to Nathaniel's point - it is a highly valuable
> >> >> thing to set ourselves the target of resolving substantial
> discussions
> >> >> by consensus.   The route you are endorsing here is 'implementor
> >> >> wins'.
> >> >
> >> > I'm not. All I want to point out is is that design and implementation
> >> > are
> >> > not completely separated either.
> >>
> >> No, they often interact.  I was trying to explain why, in this case,
> >> the implementation hasn't changed the issues substantially, as far as
> >> I can see.   If you think otherwise, then that is helpful information,
> >> because you can feed back about where the initial discussion has been
> >> overtaken by the implementation, and so we can strip down the
> >> discussion to its essential parts.
> >>
> >> >> We don't need to do it that way.  We're a mature sensible
> >> >> bunch of adults
> >> >
> >> > Agreed:)
> >>
> >> Ah - if only it was that easy :)
> >>
> >> >> who can talk out the issues until we agree they are
> >> >> ready for implementation, and then implement.
> >> >
> >> > The history of this discussion doesn't suggest it straightforward to
> get
> >> > a
> >> > design right first time. It's a complex subject.
> >>
> >> Right - and it's more complex when only some of the people involved
> >> are interested in the discussion coming to a resolution.   That's
> >> Nathaniel's point - that although it seems inefficient, working
> >> towards a good resolution of big issues like this is very valuable in
> >> getting the ideas right.
> >>
> >> > The second part of your statement, "and then implement", sounds so
> >> > simple.
> >> > The reality is that there are only a handful of developers who have
> done
> >> > a
> >> > significant amount of work on the numpy core in the last two years. I
> >> > haven't seen anyone saying they are planning to implement (part of)
> >> > whatever
> >> > design the outcome of this discussion will be. I don't think it's
> >> > strange to
> >> > keep this in mind to some extent.
> >>
> >> No, but consensus building is a little bit all or none.   I guess we'd
> >> all like consensus, but then sometimes, as Nathaniel points out, it is
> >> inconvenient and annoying.  If we have no stated commitment to
> >> consensus, at some unpredictable point in the discussion, those who
> >> are implementing will - obviously - just duck out and do the
> >> implementation.  I would do that, I guess.  Maybe I have done in the
> >> projects I'm involved in.   The question Nathaniel is raising, and me
> >> too, in a less coherent way, is - is that fine?    Does it matter that
> >> we are short-cutting through substantial discussions?   Is that really
> >> - in the long term - a more efficient way of building both the code
> >> and the community?
> >>
> >
> > Who is counted in building a consensus? I tend to pay attention to those
> who
> > have made consistent contributions over the years, reviewed code, fixed
> > bugs, and have generally been active in numpy development. In any group
> > participation is important, people who just walk in the door and demand
> > things be done their way aren't going to get a lot of respect. I'll
> happily
> > listen to politely expressed feedback, especially if the feedback comes
> from
> > someone who shows up to work, but that hasn't been my impression of the
> > disagreements in this case. Heck, Nathaniel wasn't even tracking the
> Numpy
> > pull requests or Mark's repository. That doesn't spell "participant" in
> my
> > dictionary.
>
> I'm sorry, I am not obeying Ben's 10 minute rule.
>
> This is a very important point you are making, which is that those who
> write the code have the final say.
>
> Is it fair to say that your responses show that you don't think either
> Nathaniel or I have much of a say?
>
> It's fair to say I haven't contributed much code to numpy.
>
>
But you have contributed some, which immediately gives you more credibility.


> I could imagine some sort of voting system for which the voting is
> weighted by lines of code contributed.
>

Mark has been the man over the last year. By comparison, the rest of us have
just been diddling around.


>
> I suspect you are thinking of an implicit version of such a system,
> continuously employed.
>
> But Nathaniel's point is that other projects have gone out of their
> way to avoid voting.  To quote from:
>
> http://producingoss.com/en/consensus-democracy.html
>
> "In general, taking a vote should be very rare—a last resort for when
> all other options have failed. Don't think of voting as a great way to
> resolve debates. It isn't. It ends discussion, and thereby ends
> creative thinking about the problem. As long as discussion continues,
> there is the possibility that someone will come up with a new solution
> everyone likes. "
>
>
As Ralf pointed out, the core developers are a small handful at the moment.
Now in one sense that presents an opportunity: anyone who has the time and
inclination to contribute code and review pull requests is going to make an
impact and rapidly gain influence. In a sense, leadership in the numpy
community is up for grabs. But before you can claim the kingdom, there is
the small matter of completing a quest or two.

Chuck
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