[Numpy-discussion] [Python-3000] PEP 31XX: A Type Hierarchy for Numbers (and other algebraic entities)

David Goldsmith David.L.Goldsmith@noaa....
Thu Apr 26 13:41:59 CDT 2007

Guido van Rossum wrote:
> Jeffrey, is there any way you can drop the top of the tree and going
> straight from Number to Complex -> Real -> Rational -> Integer? These
> are the things that everyone with high school math will know.
Having taught mathematics at a community college for a little while 
(hell, having taught mathematics at a few Universities - I won't name 
names), I would suggest that this is not a valid premise.  I was going 
to qualify that by adding that hopefully it is a valid premise for 
would-be mathematics-package-using programmers, but I recall a fellow 
student in an Intro to C class I was once in (not teaching, however) 
who, even though the class was not supposed to be an Intro to 
Programming course (this was back in the day when those were still 
taught in Pascal and those taking the C class were supposed to have had 
successfully completed the Pascal course first), had to be handheld not 
simply through the implementation of algorithms in C, but in the very 
development of algorithms from a problem statement.  Even without having 
to resort to such an extreme anecdote, I can envision situations where 
knowledgeable, skilled, experienced, but "deficient"-in-math programmers 
are called upon (implicitly or explicitly) by management to use numpy/scipy.

All this said, I'm certainly of the opinion that we can't "dumb down" 
numpy *too* much (after all, by some definition, it is an "advanced" 
mathematics package, at least IMO), and to my mind the sequence above, 
i.e., X->C->R->Q->Z, is a more than reasonable "line in the sand".


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