[Numpy-discussion] suggestion for generalizing numpy functions

Darren Dale dsdale24@gmail....
Mon Mar 9 08:50:41 CDT 2009

I spent some time over the weekend fixing a few bugs in numpy that were
exposed when attempting to use ufuncs with ndarray subclasses. It got me
thinking that, with relatively little work, numpy's functions could be made
to be more general. For example, the numpy.ma module redefines many of the
standard ufuncs in order to do some preprocessing before the builtin ufunc
is called. Likewise, in the units/quantities package I have been working on,
I would like to perform a dimensional analysis to make sure an operation is
allowed before I call a ufunc that might change data in place.

Imagine an ndarray subclass with methods like __gfunc_pre__ and
__gfunc_post__. __gfunc_pre__ could accept the context that is currently
provided to __array_wrap__ (the inputs and the function called), perform
whatever preprocessing is desired, and maybe return a dictionary containing
metadata. Numpy functions could then be wrapped with a decorator that 1)
calls __gfunc_pre__ and obtain any metadata that is returned 2) calls the
wrapped functions, and then 3) calls __gfunc_post__, which might be very
similar to __array_wrap__ except that it would also accept the metadata
created by __gfunc_pre__.

In cases where the routines to be called by __gfunc_pre__ and _post__ depend
on what function is called, the the subclass could implement routines and
store them in a dictionary-like object that is keyed using the function
called. I have been exploring this approach with Quantities and it seems to
work well. For example:

    def __gfunc_pre__(self, gfunc, *args):
            return gfunc_pre_registry[gfunc](*args)
        except KeyError:
            return {}

I think such an approach for generalizing numpy's functions could be
implemented without being disruptive to the existing __array_wrap__
framework. The decorator would attempt to identify an input or output array
to use to call __gfunc_pre__ and _post__. If it finds them, it uses them. If
it doesnt find them, no harm done, the existing __array_wrap__ mechanisms
are still in place if the wrapped function is a ufunc.

One other nice feature: the metadata that is returned by __gfunc_pre__ could
contain an optional flag that the decorator attempts to pass to the wrapped
function so that __gfunc_pre__ and _post are not called for any decorated
internal functions. That way the subclass could specify that __gfunc_pre__
and _post should be called only for the outer-most function.


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