[Numpy-discussion] bug in object arrays:

Peter Verveer verveer at embl-heidelberg.de
Tue Jun 8 18:21:47 CDT 2004

> The bug is that your example didn't work as follows:
>>>> import numarray.objects as obj
>>>> obj.array([a,b])
> ObjectArray([[1, 2],
>              [3, 4]])
> Returning a shape=(2,) object array is another obvious behavior but
> turns out not to be what Numeric does and hence not what numarray does
> either.   Faced with sequence objects,  Numeric and numarray both just
> keep recursing (logically anyway) until they hit something which isn't 
> a
> sequence.  Thus, they return not a 1D array of arrays, but a 2D array 
> of
> numbers:
>>>> import Numeric
> Numeric.array([a,b], typecode='O')
> array([[1 , 2 ],
>        [3 , 4 ]],'O')
> With some new code I added today,  numarray of the future will support
> your preferred behavior like this, barring further discussion:
>>>> obj.array([a,b], rank=1)
> ObjectArray([array([1, 2]), array([3, 4])])
> Here, the new "rank" parameter explicitly specifies the expected rank 
> of
> the resulting array, defining the point at which nested sequences 
> become
> "objects in their own right".  Perry's inclination was that rank should
> default to 1 so that your expected behavior was the default.  Since
> that's not backward compatible with Numeric (or numarray-0.9) I think
> maybe rank=None is better.  In this case, rank=None is equivalent to
> rank=2.
> How does the rank parameter sound?
> Regards,
> Todd

I see the logic of the recursing but it was unexpected in this 
particular example. The rank parameter is a solution, but I don't think 
it is very elegant to be honest. rank=1 should certainly not be the 
default, because it would not work if the rank of the desired object 
array is not one... For example, I want to make object arrays of 
arbitrary rank containing numarrays, so I would need to specify the 
rank anyway.

How about stopping the recursion as soon as an object is found that is 
not a sequence, or that is a sequence of but of a different type? In my 
example the outer sequence is a list and the objects are arrays, so as 
soon as a array is seen the recursion would stop, giving the desired 

Is this idea too complex? If not, could some optional argument switch 
to this behaviour? Or maybe some special value for rank (-1) could be 
used for that? The rank parameter would still be useful if you want to 
stop the recursion in a nested list, then you must give some kind of 
hint anyway.

It would give the desired behavior in many cases, so I would actually 
prefer to see something like that as the default. Maybe my suggestion 
would not break things to much since nesting different types of 
sequence to generate a homogeneous object array may not be done often 
anyway (its not what you want usually, I guess).

Cheers, Peter

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