[SciPy-user] Pros and Cons of Python verses other array environments

A. M. Archibald peridot.faceted at gmail.com
Thu Sep 28 15:06:23 CDT 2006


On 28/09/06, Gael Varoquaux <gael.varoquaux at normalesup.org> wrote:
>  John,
>
> You have good argument and I certainly won't fight over you about that.
> I prefer python and find it easy to use. But I use object oriented
> programming, importing modules, functional programming, regexp, operator
> overloading, and some of my colleagues have difficulties with this.

This is a question of what *you* use - python is fairly good about
keeping its fancy features out of the way of those who don't want to
use them. The fact that you *can* write object-oriented programs
doesn't affect the syntax you use to define a function (for example).

> Maybe python can seem harder because it can be used at higher levels. I
> still thing that it is lacking an IDE where you can "click and start
> typing".

This is a question of user interface, and it's a good one.

I use ipython and vim, mostly, and am still getting the hang of making
them work together well (I had been using reload(module) constantly,
and I just found %run; I expect there are other things I still need,
like a good way to use PDB). This is not a terribly convenient user
interface, although it could perhaps be made into one with a bit of
integration work (and a good tutorial).

IDLE seems to be an attempt to provide a convenient user interface
integrating debugger, interactive session, editor, and help, but I
pretty consistently crash it after half an hour of use, losing all my
state in all the aforementioned omponents.

One advantage of a single unified package is that people can start
filing integration and UI bugs - "I start PyLab but my plots appear
under all the other windows", "the editor has a different default
directory than the interpreter", and so on.


As for missing features, I'd like to see even very basic symbolic
calculation tools, so that (for example) I could just call a symbolic
derivative function to supply a Jacobian to the minimizers. From a bit
of web research, swiginac seems like the most promising alternative.
(This should naturally be integrated with the orthogonal polynomials.)


A. M. Archibald


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