[Numpy-discussion] Matrix Class [was numpy release]

Timothy Hochberg tim.hochberg@ieee....
Thu Apr 24 18:45:21 CDT 2008

Chris.Barker wrote:

> Alan G Isaac wrote:
> > the cost of complexity should be justified by a gain in functionality.
> I don't think functionality is the right word here. the Matrix class(es)
> is all about clean, convenient API, i.e. style, not functionality -- we
> have all the functionality already, indeed we have it with plain old
> arrays, so I think that's really beside the point.

Not entirely, there's no good way do deal with arrays of matrices at
present. This could be fixed by tweaking dot, but it could also be part of a
reform of the matrix class.


> Timothy Hochberg wrote:
> >    1. The matrices and arrays should become more alike if possible
> I'm not sure I agree -- the more alike they are, the less point there is
> to having them.

That's the best possible outcome. If some solution can be reached that
naturally supports enough matrix operations on array, without significantly
complexifying array,  to satisfy the matrix users then that would be great.
Less stuff to maintain, less stuff to learn, etc, etc.

With that in mind, what is minimum amount of stuff that matrix should

   1. Indexing along a single axis should produce a row or column vector as
   2. '*' should mean matrix multiplication.
   3. '**' should mean matrix exponentiation. I suspect that this is less
   crucial than 2, but no more difficult.

There's some other stuff that's less critical IMO (.H and .I for example)
but feel free to yell at me if you think I'm mistaken.

There's some other properties that a fix should have as well, in my opinion
and in some cases in others opinions as well.

   1. A single index into an array should yield a 1D object just as indexing
   an array does. This does not have to inconsistent with #1 above; Chris
   Barker proposed one solution. I'm not sold on the details of that solution,
   but I approve of the direction that it points to. [In general A[i][j] should
   equal A[i,j]. I know that fancy indexing breaks this; that was a mistake
   IMO, but that's a discussion for another day].
   2. It should be possible to embed both vectors and matrices naturally
   into arrays. This would allow natural and efficient implementation of, for
   example, rotating a 1000 3D vectors. One could spell that R * V, where R is
   a 2x2 matrix and V is a 1000x3 array, where the last axis is understood to
   be a vector.
   3. I'm pretty certain there's a third thing I wanted to mention but it
   escapes me. It'll resurface at the most inopportune time....

Let's play with Chris Barker's RowVector and ColVector proposal for a
moment. Let's suppose that we have four four classes: Scalar, RowVector,
ColVector and Matrix. They're all pretty much the same as today's array
class except that:

   1. They are displayed a little differently so that you can tell them
   2. __mul__ and __pow__ are treated differently

Let's consider __mul__: when a RowVector multiplied with ColVector, the dot
product is computed. If, for example, the arrays are both 2D, the they are
treated as arrays of vectors and the dot product of each pair of vectors is
computed in turn: I think broadcasting should work correctly, but I haven't
thought that all the way through yet. Ignoring broadcasting for a moment,
the rules are:

   1. (n)D Scalar * (n)D Scalar => (n)D Scalar (elementwise)
   2. (n)D RowVector * (n)D ColVector => (n-1)D Scalar (dot product)
   3. (n+1)D Matrix * (n)D ColVector => (n)D ColVector (matrix-vector
   4. (n)D Matrix * n(D) Matrix => (n)D Matrix (matrix) product

Other combinations would be an error. In principal you could do dyadic
products, but I suspect we'd be better off using a separate function for
that since most of the times that would just indicate a mistake. Note that
in this example Scalar is playing the role of the present day array, which
I've assumed has magically vanished from the scene somehow.

This looks like it gets of most the way towards where we want to be. There
are some issues though. For example, all of the sudden you want to different
transpose operators; one that transposes matrices and flips colVectors to
RowVectors and leaves Scalars alone, and another that manipulates the rest
of the array structure. There is probably other stuff like that too, it
doesn't look insurmountable to me right now, however.

Still, I'm not sold on the whole RowVector/ColVector/Matrix approach. I have
a gut feeling that we'd be better off with a single array class that was
somehow tagged to indicate it's type. Also, I keep hoping to come up with an
elegant generalization to this that turns arrays into quasi-tensor objects
where all the matrix behavior falls out naturally. Sadly, attempts in this
direction keep collapsing under there own weight but I'm still thinking
about it.

However, I do think that the RowVector/ColVector/Matrix approach is a step
in the right direction and is certainly worth discussing to see where it


> >       should share more of the same code base.
> Don't they share almost all the same code already? My understanding is
> that they are arrays with a couple operators overloaded -- how much more
> code could they share?
> Nevertheless, I'm interested to see what Tim comes up with.
> >    2. This doesn't support the concept of arrays of matrices/vectors,
> >       which is one thing I've always wanted out of the matrix class. For
> >       example it would be nice to be able to spell: 'A' is a 1D array of
> >       matrices (3D) overall, 'B' is a 1D array of vectors (3D) overall,
> You could do this now with a 1-d object array, with a bunch of matrices
> in it.
> >       matrix multiply them together, yielding a 1D array of matrices
> >       (3D) overall.
> But this, or course, would fail. However, if we expand this scenario to
> A and B being 1-d arrays of other arrays that may not all be the same
> size (and thus you couldn't just use a 3-d array), and be able to run
> various ufuncs on them, that would be cool!
> Bill Spotz wrote:
> >> The fact that there is another way to get a row vector: M[i] is a
> >> bonus.
> >
> > Except that the behavior of M[i] is one of the driving issues of the
> > conversation.
> well, yes, but a bit of a red herring, I think -- it's syntactic sugar.
> The issue, I think, is that even if you do:
> r = M[:,i]
> you can't then index that with a single index -- it's a matrix, NOT a
> 1-d array. Again, I proposed disallowing M[i] altogether, as it is
> ambiguous, but that really is gratuitous consistency.
> >> A vector is a 1-d array with some functionality overloaded to make it
> >> convenient to do linear algebra.
> >
> > Again, I would argue for Vectors inheriting from Matrix.  I would make
> > the case based on code reuse and elegance, although these might be
> > overridden by some other concern.
> I think that's a bit of an implementation detail -- we need to define
> behavior that we want, and decide how best to implement that. i.e.:
> RowVector[i] ->  scalar
> RowVector.A  -> 1-d array
> (same for column)
> How do we want it pretty-printed?
> We need to focus on column vectors here -- It's easy to say: a row
> vector is a 1-d array -- that's easy and clean. It's column vectors that
> are tricky -- indeed they are a pain with regular old arrays.
> What about
> > np.Matrix(<container of RowVector>)
> > np.Matrix(<container of ColumnVector>)
> I'd say you get a matrix from each of those, but they would be
> transposes of each-other -- another good reason for the Vector classes.
> though maybe those should be spelled:
> np.row_stack and np.column_stack
> > I have generally thought about this in the context of, say, a
> > Krylov-space iterative method, and what that type of interface would
> > lead to the most readable code.
> Can you whip up a small example, starting with the current implementation?
> Bruce Southey wrote:
> > Hi,
> > I would like to use the matrix functionality but I, like others, get by
> > without it.
> What does it lack that keeps you from using it? That's the key question?
> > +1 to Tim's and Nadav's comments. As Tim said, there should be seamless
> > integration between concepts of vectors and matrices - after all there
> > really no distinction between them in linear algebra.
> This is all about being able to index a "vector" with a single index --
> that's it, I think. Matlab handles this by special casing matrices that
> have a single dimension of one. It also has an easy way to spell a
> literal for column vector, though I suppose:
> np.Matrix((1,2,3,4,5)).T
> isn't so bad.
> > -2 for having rowvector and columnvector - both numpy and I should know
> > the orientation, if not, I deserve garbage or an error.
> But HOW can you know the orientation? a 1-d array has no orientation --
> which is why the current version always returns a matrix when indexing.
> > 0 for vector - I don't see the need for it as a unique entity but
> > understand the simplicity of saying vector.
> I don't think we can have vector without ColumnVector, though I suppose
> a "Vector" can be either a (n,1) or a (1,n) matrix that allows single
> indexing.
> By the way, maybe a column vector could be handy for doing array
> broadcasting, as an cleaner way to do:
> x = np.arange(10)
> y = np.arange(20).reshape((-1,1))
> z = FunctionOfXandY(x,y)
> Final note:
> If no one has an linear algebra examples, then we're wasting out time
> with even this cheap talk.
> -Chris
> --
> Christopher Barker, Ph.D.
> Oceanographer
> Emergency Response Division
> NOAA/NOS/OR&R            (206) 526-6959   voice
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> Chris.Barker@noaa.gov
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. tim.hochberg@ieee.org
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