[Numpy-discussion] Proposal for making of Numarray a real Numeric 'NG'

Paul F. Dubois paul at pfdubois.com
Fri Jan 21 10:21:05 CST 2005

Somehow 349,000+ accesses to the Numeric home page have occurred despite 
the fact that those searching for it did not get a good education at 
MIT. I had it on my own site so as to be able to use better tools than 
SF lets you do. We're in the middle of changing the ownership of the 
page due to my impending retirement, so perhaps that caused some confusion.

The Numeric/numpy/Numerical thing has a long funny history. You had to 
be there. It isn't right but it is what it is.

When I was leading the project there was a general feeling that a lot of 
the things we wanted to do with Numeric were going to be very hard to do 
with the existing implementation, some of which was generated by a code 
generator that had gotten lost, and some of which was impeneratable 
because it was written by a genius who went to (you guessed it) MIT.

My intention was to replace Numeric with a quickly-written better 
implementation. That is why the Numeric page says what it says. I've 
left it that way as a reminder of the goal, which I continue to believe 
is important. Besides cleaning it up, the other motivation was to back 
off the 'performance at all cost' design enough that we would be 'safe' 
enough to qualify for the Python distribution and become a standard 
module. Numeric was written without many safety checks *on purpose*. 
Over time opinions about that philosphy changed.

In fact, the team that wrote numarray did not do what I asked for, 
leading to the present confusion but also to, as noted by Altet, some 
nice features. I think it was unfortunate that this happened but as with 
most open source projects the person doing the work does the work the 
way they want and partly to satisfy their own needs. But they do the 
work, all credit to them. I'm not complaining.

There are really only a couple of problems (object arrays and array 
creation time) that can be fixed. What is wrong with the array creation 
time is obvious. It is written in Python and has too much flexibility, 
which costs time to decode. Make a raw C-level creator with less choice 
and I bet it will be ok. Somebody help these guys; this isn't a product 
it is an open source project. Let's get to the promised land and retire 

Jason Rennie wrote:
> On Fri, Jan 21, 2005 at 02:13:45PM +0100, Francesc Altet wrote:
>>If you are new to Numerical Python, please use Numarray. The older module,
>>Numeric, is unsupported.  At this writing Numarray is slower for very small
>>arrays but faster for large ones. Numarray contains facilities to help you
>>convert older code to use it. Some parts of the community have not made the
>>switch yet but the Numarray libraries have been carefully named differently
>>so that Numeric and Numarray can coexist in one application.
> Another problem is that Numeric is extremely poorly advertised/marketed.
> - There is no single keyword for Numeric: it is referred to as "Numerical",
>   "Numeric" and "numpy".  Both "Numerical" and "numpy" are also used to
>   refer to numarray.
> - Numeric does not have a home page of its own.  The Sourceforge
>   "Numerical" page lists both numarray and Numeric (which, coincidentally,
>   is referred to as "numpy").
> - The #1 & #2 Google results for "numeric python" are the numpy.org
>   page, which is out-of-date, and advertises numarray as being a replacement
>   for Numeric.  Plus, what appears to be the main link for Numeric,
>   "Release 22.0" points to a page with both numarray and Numeric
>   releases, numarray first, and Numeric releases named "numpy".  Could
>   you try to be more confusing?
> - None of the top 10 Google links for "numeric python" point to the 
>   Sourceforge page.
> - A "numeric python" search on sourceforge lists 24 projects before the
>   Numerical Python page.
> Jason
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