[Numpy-discussion] Counting array elements

Gary Strangman strang at nmr.mgh.harvard.edu
Mon Oct 25 10:38:01 CDT 2004

>> I completely agree with this ... an efficient flat/ravel would seem to 
>> solve many of the issues being raised. Forgive the potentially naive 
>> question here, but is there any reason such an efficient, enhanced view 
>> can't be implemented for the .flat method?
> I believe it is not possible without copying data. The strides between 
> elements of a noncontiguous array are not always the same, so you cannot 
> efficiently view it as a 1D array.

And it gets even worse for different-stride slices of N-D arrays (though 
I'm not yet ready to say it's impossible to do without copying). Maybe 
it's just me, but it does seem somewhat non-pythonic for a function/method 
to break for an inefficient case, instead of dropping back to less 
efficient (i.e., copying) behavior.

> Functions should be coded in the first place to take multi-dimensional nature 
> into account in my opinion. One of the points of numarray is that it is 
> multi-dimensional. If a function can work over multiple dimensions, but it 
> only works for 1D arrays, it is broken in my opinion. In my opinion sum() 
> _is_ broken, and introducing a separate sum_all() is an ugly hack.

+1. ;-) Hence the thought to make flattening a single "enhanced" 
method/fcn ... to essentially eliminate the need for such ugly hacks. 
Typically, my functions accept N-D arguments, and can operate over a 
user-selected subset of these dimensions. I may pass a whole array, or 
every other column, or whatever. Judging from the history of this thread, 
I think a .flat that is as-efficient-as-possible and also robust to all 
forms of non-contiguity would benefit many, while also reducing the 
learning-curve issues associated with .flat vs ravel().

As for where/when/how to introduce .newandimprovedflat, welllllll, that's 
for another thread. ;-)


Gary Strangman, PhD        |  Director, Neural Systems Group
Office: 617-724-0662       |  Massachusetts General Hospital
Fax:    617-726-4078       |  149 13th Street, Ste 10018
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