[SciPy-User] Least-squares fittings with bounds: why is scipy not up to the task?

Gael Varoquaux gael.varoquaux@normalesup....
Fri Mar 9 10:54:43 CST 2012


Hi Matt,

I am not going to answer to the core of your message. I partly agree with
it and partly disagree. I think that it is fair to have different points
of view. In addition, I do share the opinion that the situation of
developers in open source scientific software is not ideal. I've suffered
from it personally.

I just want to react to a couple of minor points

>    At no point has anyone from the scipy team expressed an interest in
>    putting this into scipy.

Who is the scipy team? What is the scipy team? Who could or should
express such an interest? These are people struggling to maintain a
massive package on their free time. It actually takes a lot of time to
monitor the mailing lists and pick up offers like yours to turn them into
something that can be integrated.

Had you submitted a pull request, with code ready to be merged, i.e. with
no extra work in terms of documentation, API or tests, I think that it
would be legitimate to blame the scipy developers for lack of interest.
That said, I can easily understand how such a pull request would fall
between the cracks. It's unfortunate, not excusable, but it does happen.
Indeed, in the projects I maintain, I am kept busy full time with pure
maintenance work (bug fixing, answering emails, improving documentation).
When I review and merge pull requests, a lot of the time they are for
features that I do not need, and I spend full week ends adding tests,
fixing numerical instabilities, completing the docs so that they can be
merged. You have to realize that most contributions to open source
projects actually add up to the workload of the core developers.
Thankfully, not all of them. Teams do build upon people unexpectedly
fixing bugs, contributing flawless code that can be merged in without any
additional work.

I personally have seen my time invested in maintenance of open source
project go up and up for the last few years, until it was to a point
where I was spending a major part of my free time on it. It ended up
giving me a nasty back pain, and I started not answering bug reports,
pull requests and support emails to preserve my health: it is not sane to
spend all onces time in front of a computer.

>    There are many kinds of skills.  Sometimes, not insulting your customers,
>    colleagues, and potential collaborators is the most important one.

Maybe I went over the top. I didn't want to sound insulting. I felt
insulted, as an open source develop (even thought I am not a scipy
developer). I am sorry that I ignited a flame. Getting worked out about
email is never a good thing, and discussion pushing blame certainly don't
help building a community. Maybe I shouldn't have sent this email, or I
should have worded it differently. I apologize for the harsh tone. I
certainly did feel bad when I received the original email, and I wanted
to express it.

>    For myself, I find it quite discouraging that the scipy team is so
>    insular.

Firstly, I would like to stress that I cannot consider myself as part of
the scipy team. I contribute very little code to scipy. As a consequence
I do not feel that I have much legitimacy in making decisions or
comments on the codebase. Thus you shouldn't take my reaction as a
reaction coming from the scipy team, but rather as coming from myself.

Second, can I ask you what makes you think that the scipy team is
insular? Scipy is a big project with a lot of history. As such it is
harder to contribute to it than a small and light project. But I don't
feel any dogmatism or clique attitude from the developers. And, by the
way, if we are going to talk about the scipy developers, I encourage
everybody to find out who they are, i.e. who has been contributing lately
[1]. I don't think that the handful of people that come on top of the
list have an insular behavior. I do think that they are on an island, in
the sens that they are pretty much left alone to do the grunt work. None
of these people reacted badly to any mail on this mailing list about the
state of scipy. I raise my hat to them!

Gaël


[1]::

$ git clone https://github.com/scipy/scipy.git
$ git shortlog -sn v0.7.0..



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