[SciPy-user] Vector mean calculation?

Bob Ippolito bob at redivi.com
Sat Apr 23 01:59:02 CDT 2005


On Apr 23, 2005, at 2:06 AM, Lance Boyle wrote:

> On Apr 22, 2005, at 3:04 AM, Fernando.Perez at colorado.edu wrote:
>
>> Lance Boyle wrote:
>>> On Apr 21, 2005, at 5:41 PM, Fernando.Perez at colorado.edu wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>>> Quoting Thomas Davidoff <davidoff at haas.berkeley.edu>:
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>> I have a vector with min equal to 412.  Why am I getting a negative
>>>>> mean?
>>>>
>>>> Without more details, it's quite difficult to be sure.  Most likely,
>>>> because
>>>> it's very long and of integer type (ints are 32 bit objects, so you 
>>>> are
>>>> effectively doing mod 2^31 arithmetic with negative wraparound).
>>>>
>>>
>>> Why does Python allow modular arithmetic when the user doesn't 
>>> request
>>> modular arithmetic?
>>
>> Well, it's just what happens in C always: regular ints are 32 bit 
>> objects, hence
>> with a range of [-2**31,2**31-1].  If you start adding and go beyond 
>> the right
>> endpoint of the interval, it will wrap around the left.  Pure python 
>> shields
>> you from this with silent promotion to  python longs, which are
>> arbitrary-length integers.  But in Numeric/numarray, you are using 
>> raw C
>> objects (for speed reasons), so you can't escape some of their 
>> limitations
>> (which are in many cases precisely what gives you speed).   Life is 
>> full of
>> compromises...
>
> Well, I apologize for a bit of baiting. I get upset when a language 
> lets me do something which I didn't intend, and when it is preventable 
> in the design of the language. Python is 30 years newer than C but yet 
> we have to put up with some of the same deficiencies of C (OK, so it 
> was in a library). If the original poster was really suffering 
> wrap-around (getting a mean value of a vector that is less than the 
> minimum value), then he/she could be the poster boy/girl for poor 
> language design. We might inquire about how much time he saved by 
> using unchecked modular arithmetic versus how much time he wasted 
> debugging his program, posting to this list, and making repairs. We 
> might also ask him what might have been the consequences of getting 
> such an incorrect result that he did not catch.

30 years in what universe?  C has been around for about 34 years 
(1971), and Python wasn't born yesterday (1990).

Anyway, you could ask him if he would prefer a default implementation 
that ran 10x slower (probably worse) because it performed checked 
arithmetic.  You get one or the other, and both is simply more work.  
If this function was 100% Python and didn't bother with Numeric/etc. it 
would've done the right thing out of the box, but it might still be 
calculating :)

-bob



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