[Numpy-discussion] rand argument question
robert.kern at gmail.com
Fri Jun 2 13:50:56 CDT 2006
Alan G Isaac wrote:
> On Fri, 02 Jun 2006, Sven Schreiber apparently wrote:
>>why doesn't rand accept a shape tuple as argument? I find
>>the difference between the argument types of rand and (for
>>example) zeros somewhat confusing. ... Can anybody offer
> Backward compatability, I believe. You are not alone in
> finding this odd and inconsistent. I am hoping for a change
> by 1.0, but I am not very hopeful.
> Robert always points out that if you want the consistent
> interface, you can always import functions from the 'random'
> module. I have never been able to understand this as
> a response to the point you are making.
> I take it the core argument goes something like this:
> - rand and randn are convenience functions
> * if you do not find them convenient, don't use them
> - they are in wide use, so it is too late to change them
> - testing the first argument to see whether it is a tuple or
> an int so aesthetically objectionable that its ugliness
> outweighs the benefits users might get from access to
> a more consistent interface
My argument does not include the last two points.
- They are in wide use because they are convenient and useful.
- Changing rand() and randn() to accept a tuple like random.random() and
random.standard_normal() does not improve anything. Instead, it adds confusion
for users who are reading code and seeing the same function being called in two
- Users who want to see numpy *only* expose a single calling scheme for
top-level functions should instead ask for rand() and randn() to be removed from
the top numpy namespace.
* Backwards compatibility might prevent this.
> This is one place where I believe a forward looking (i.e.,
> think about new users) vision would force a small change in
> these *convenience* functions that will have payoffs both in
> ease of use and in eliminating this recurrent question from
> discussion lists.
*Changing* the API of rand() and randn() doesn't solve any problem. *Removing*
"I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma
that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had
an underlying truth."
-- Umberto Eco
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