[Numpy-discussion] RecArray.tolist() suggestion

Perry Greenfield perry at stsci.edu
Thu Jul 15 10:39:06 CDT 2004

Francesc Alted wrote:
> A Dijous 15 Juliol 2004 17:21, Colin J. Williams va escriure:
> > >What I propose is to be able to say:
> > >>>>r["c1"][1]
> > I would suggest going a step beyond this, so that one can have r.c1[1],
> > see the script below.
> Yeah. I've implemented something similar to access column elements for
> pytables Table objects. However, the problem in this case is that
> there are
> already attributes that "pollute" the column namespace, so that a column
> named "size" collides with the size() method.
The idea of mapping field names to attributes occurs to everyone
quickly, but for the reasons Francesc gives (as well as another I'll
mention) we were reluctant to implement it. The other reason is that
it would be nice to allow field names that are not legal attributes
(e.g., that include spaces or other illegal attribute characters).
There are potentially people with data in databases or other similar
formats that would like to map field name exactly. Well certainly
one can still use the attribute approach and not support all field
names (or column, or col...) it does introduce another glitch in
the user interface when it works only for a subset of legal names.

> I came up with a solution by adding a new "cols" attribute to the Table
> object that is an instance of a simple class named Cols with no attributes
> that can pollute the namespace (except some starting by "__" or "_v_").
> Then, it is just a matter of provide functionality to access the different
> columns. In that case, when a reference of a column is made,
> another object
> (instance of Column class) is returned. This Column object is basically an
> accessor to column values with a __getitem__() and __setitem__() methods.
> That might sound complicated, but it is not. I'm attaching part of the
> relevant code below.
> I personally like that solution in the context of pytables because it
> extends the "natural naming" convention quite naturally. A
> similar approach
> could be applied to RecArray objects as well, although numarray might (and
> probably do) have other usage conventions.
> > I have not explored the assignment of a value to r.c1.[1], but it seems
> > to be achievable.
> in the schema I've just proposed the next should be feasible:
> value = r.cols.c1[1]
> r.cols.c1[1] = value
This solution avoids name collisions but doesn't handle the other
problem. This is worth considering, but I thought I'd hear comments
about the other issue before deciding it (there is also the
"more than one way" issue as well; but this guideline seems to bend
quite often to pragmatic concerns).

We're still chewing on all the other issues and plan to start floating
some proposals, rationales and questions before long.


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