[Numpy-discussion] missing data discussion round 2

Mark Wiebe mwwiebe@gmail....
Wed Jun 29 12:14:01 CDT 2011

On Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 2:26 AM, Dag Sverre Seljebotn <
d.s.seljebotn@astro.uio.no> wrote:

> On 06/27/2011 05:55 PM, Mark Wiebe wrote:
> > First I'd like to thank everyone for all the feedback you're providing,
> > clearly this is an important topic to many people, and the discussion
> > has helped clarify the ideas for me. I've renamed and updated the NEP,
> > then placed it into the master NumPy repository so it has a more
> > permanent home here:
> >
> > https://github.com/numpy/numpy/blob/master/doc/neps/missing-data.rst
> One thing to think about is the presence of SSE/AVX instructions, which
> has the potential to change some of the memory/speed trade-offs here.
> In the newest Intel-platform CPUs you can do 256-bit operations,
> translating to a theoretical factor 8 speedup for in-cache single
> precision data, and the instruction set is constructed for future
> expansion possibilites to 512 or 1024 bit registers.

The ufuncs themselves need a good bit of refactoring to be able to use these
kinds of instructions well. I'm definitely thinking about this kind of thing
while designing/implementing.

> I feel one should take care to not design oneself into a corner where
> this can't (eventually) be leveraged.
> 1) The shuffle instructions takes a single byte as a control character
> for moving around data in different ways in 128-bit registers. One could
> probably implement fast IGNORE-style NA with a seperate mask using 1
> byte per 16 bytes of data (with 4 or 8-byte elements). OTOH, I'm not
> sure if 1 byte per element kind of mask would be that fast (but I don't
> know much about this and haven't looked at the details).

This level of optimization, while important, is often dwarfed by the effects
of cache. Because of the complexity of the system demanded by the
functionality, I'm trying to favor simplicity and generality without
precluding high performance.

2) The alternative "Parameterized Data Type Which Adds Additional Memory
> for the NA Flag" would mean that contiguous arrays with NA's/IGNORE's
> would not be subject to vector instructions, or create a mess of copying
> in and out prior to operating on the data. This really seems like the
> worst of all possibilites to me.

This one was suggested on the list, so I added it.


> (FWIW, my vote is in favour of both NA-using-NaN and
> IGNORE-using-explicit-masks, and keep the two as entirely seperate
> worlds to avoid confusion.)

> Dag Sverre
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