[Numpy-discussion] Numpy governance update

Perry Greenfield perry@stsci....
Thu Feb 16 05:49:06 CST 2012


On Feb 15, 2012, at 6:18 PM, Joe Harrington wrote:
>
>
> Of course, balancing all of this (and our security blanket) is the
> possibility of someone splitting the code if they don't like how
> Continuum runs things.  Perry, you've done that yourself to this  
> code's
> predecessor, so you know the risks.  You did that in response to one
> constituency's moving the code in a direction you didn't like (or not
> moving it in one you did, I don't remember exactly), as in your  
> example
> #2.  So, while progress might be made when that happens, last time it
> hurt astronomers enough that you rolled your own and had to put  
> several
> FTE on the problem.  That split held back adoption of numpy both in  
> the
> astronomy community and outside it, for like 5 years.  Perhaps some
> governance would have saved you the effort and cost and the community
> the grief of the numarray split.  Of course, lots of good eventually
> came from the split.

It wasn't quite like that (hindsight often obscures the perspective at  
the time). At that time, there was a quasi-consensus that Numeric  
needed some sort of rewrite. When we started numarray, it wasn't our  
intent to split the community. That did happen since numarray didn't  
satisfy enough of the community to get them to buy into it. (It's even  
more involved than that, but there is no need to rehash those details).

I'm not sure what to make of the claim the split held back adoption of  
numpy. It only makes sense if you say it held back adoption of Numeric  
in the astronomy community. Numpy wasn't available, and when it was,  
it didn't take nearly that long to get adopted. I'd have to check, but  
I'm pretty sure we switched to using it as quickly as possible once it  
was ready to use.

And I still maintain Numeric wasn't really suitable for our needs.  
Some overhaul was needed, and with that would have been some pain.  
Could it have all gone smoother somehow? In some ideal world, perhaps.  
But maybe numarray was a secret plot to get Travis to do numpy all  
along, and that was the only way to get where we needed to get ;-)

Perry



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