[Numpy-discussion] Another suggestion for making numpy's functions generic

Travis Oliphant oliphant@enthought....
Mon Oct 19 17:29:50 CDT 2009

On Oct 17, 2009, at 7:49 AM, Darren Dale wrote:

> numpy's functions, especially ufuncs, have had some ability to support
> subclasses through the ndarray.__array_wrap__ method, which provides
> masked arrays or quantities (for example) with an opportunity to set
> the class and metadata of the output array at the end of an operation.
> An example is
> q1 = Quantity(1, 'meter')
> q2 = Quantity(2, 'meters')
> numpy.add(q1, q2) # yields Quantity(3, 'meters')
> At SciPy2009 we committed a change to the numpy trunk that provides a
> chance to determine the class and some metadata of the output *before*
> the ufunc performs its calculation, but after output array has been
> established (and its data is still uninitialized). Consider:
> q1 = Quantity(1, 'meter')
> q2 = Quantity(2, 'J')
> numpy.add(q1, q2, q1)
> # or equivalently:
> # q1 += q2
> With only __array_wrap__, the attempt to propagate the units happens
> after q1's data was updated in place, too late to raise an error, the
> data is now corrupted. __array_prepare__ solves that problem, an
> exception can be raised in time.
> Now I'd like to suggest one more improvement to numpy to make its
> functions more generic. Consider one more example:
> q1 = Quantity(1, 'meter')
> q2 = Quantity(2, 'feet')
> numpy.add(q1, q2)
> In this case, I'd like an opportunity to operate on the input arrays
> on the way in to the ufunc, to rescale the second input to meters. I
> think it would be a hack to try to stuff this capability into
> __array_prepare__. One form of this particular example is already
> supported in quantities, "q1 + q2", by overriding the __add__ method
> to rescale the second input, but there are ufuncs that do not have an
> associated special method. So I'd like to look into adding another
> check for a special method, perhaps called __input_prepare__. My time
> is really tight for the next month, so I'd rather not start if there
> are strong objections, but otherwise, I'd like to try to try to get it
> in in time for numpy-1.4. (Has a timeline been established?)
> I think it will be not too difficult to document this overall scheme:
> When calling numpy functions:
> 1) __input_prepare__ provides an opportunity to operate on the inputs
> to yield versions that are compatible with the operation (they should
> obviously not be modified in place)
> 2) the output array is established
> 3) __array_prepare__ is used to determine the class of the output
> array, as well as any metadata that needs to be established before the
> operation proceeds
> 4) the ufunc performs its operations
> 5) __array_wrap__ provides an opportunity to update the output array
> based on the results of the computation
> Comments, criticisms? If PEP 3124^ were already a part of the standard
> library, that could serve as the basis for generalizing numpy's
> functions. But I think the PEP will not be approved in its current
> form, and it is unclear when and if the author will revisit the
> proposal. The scheme I'm imagining might be sufficient for our
> purposes.

This seems like it could work.    So, basically ufuncs will take any  
object as input and call it's __input__prepare__ method?   This should  
return a sub-class of an ndarray?


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