[Numpy-discussion] Proposed Roadmap Overview

Charles R Harris charlesr.harris@gmail....
Fri Feb 17 21:52:56 CST 2012

On Fri, Feb 17, 2012 at 7:29 PM, David Cournapeau <cournape@gmail.com>wrote:

> Le 18 févr. 2012 00:58, "Charles R Harris" <charlesr.harris@gmail.com> a
> écrit :
> >
> >
> >
> > On Fri, Feb 17, 2012 at 4:44 PM, David Cournapeau <cournape@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> >>
> >> I don't think c++ has any significant advantage over c for high
> performance libraries. I am not convinced by the number of people argument
> either: it is not my experience that c++ is easier to maintain in a open
> source context, where the level of people is far from consistent. I doubt
> many people did not contribute to numoy because it is in c instead if c++.
> While this is somehow subjective, there are reasons that c is much more
> common than c++ in that context.
> >
> >
> > I think C++ offers much better tools than C for the sort of things in
> Numpy. The compiler will take care of lots of things that now have to be
> hand crafted and I wouldn't be surprised to see the code size shrink by a
> significant factor.
> There are two arguments here: that c code in numpy could be improved, and
> that c++ is the best way to do it. Nobody so far has argued against the
> first argument. i think there is a lot of space to improve things while
> still be in C.
> You say that the compiler would take care of a lot of things: so far, the
> main thing that has been mentionned is raii. While it is certainly a useful
> concept, I find it ewtremely difficult to use correctly in real
> applications. Things that are simple to do on simple examples become really
> hard to deal with when features start to interact with each other (which is
> always in c++). Writing robust code that is exception safe with the stl
> requires a lot of knowledge. I don't have this knowledge. I have .o doubt
> Mark has this knowledge. Does anyone else on this list has ?

I have the sense you have written much in C++. Exception handling is maybe
one of the weakest aspects of C, that is, it basically doesn't have any.
The point is, I'd rather not *have* to worry much about the C/C++ side of
things, and I think once a solid foundation is in place I won't have to
nearly as much.

Back in the late 80's I used rather nice Fortran and C++ compilers for
writing code to run in extended DOS (the dos limit was 640 KB at that
time). They were written in - wait for it - Pascal. The authors explained
this seemingly odd decision by claiming that Pascal was better for bigger
projects than C, and I agreed with them ;) Now you can point to Linux,
which is 30 million + lines of C, but that is rather exceptional and the
barriers to entry at this point are pretty darn high. My own experience is
that beginners can seldom write more than a page of C and get it right,
mostly because of pointers. Now C++ has a ton of subtleties and one needs
to decide up front what parts to use and what not, but once a well designed
system is in place, many things become easier because a lot of housekeeping
is done for you.

My own concern here is that the project is bigger than Mark thinks and he
might get sucked off into a sideline, but I'd sure like to see the
experiment made.

> >> I would much rather move most part to cython to solve subtle ref
> counting issues, typically.
> >
> >
> > Not me, I'd rather write most stuff in C/C++ than Cython, C is cleaner
> ;) Cython good for the Python interface, but once past that barrier C is
> easier, and C++ has lots of useful things.
> >>
> >> The only way that i know of to have a stable and usable abi is to wrap
> the c++ code in c. Wrapping c++ libraries in python  has always been a pain
> in my experience. How are template or exceptions handled across languages ?
> it will also be a significant issue on windows with open source compilers.
> >>
> >> Interestingly, the api from clang exported to other languages is in c...
> >
> >
> > The api isn't the same as the implementation language. I wouldn't
> prejudge these issues, but some indication of how they would be solved
> might be helpful.
> I understand that api and inplementation language are not the same: you
> just quoted the part where I was mentioning it :)
> Assuming a c++ inplementation with a c api, how will you deal with
> templates ? how will you deal with exception ? How will you deal with
> exception crossing dll/so between different compilers, which is a very
> common situation in our community ?

None of these strike me as relevant, I mean, they are internals, not api
problems, and shouldn't be visible to the user. How Mark would implement
the C++ API, as opposed to the C API I don't know, but since both would be
there I don't see the problem. But really, we need more details on how
these things would work.

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