[Numpy-discussion] Proposed Roadmap Overview

David Cournapeau cournape@gmail....
Sat Feb 18 01:55:40 CST 2012

Le 18 févr. 2012 06:18, "Christopher Jordan-Squire" <cjordan1@uw.edu> a
écrit :
> On Fri, Feb 17, 2012 at 8:30 PM, Sturla Molden <sturla@molden.no> wrote:
> >
> >
> > Den 18. feb. 2012 kl. 05:01 skrev Jason Grout <
> >
> >> On 2/17/12 9:54 PM, Sturla Molden wrote:
> >>> We would have to write a C++ programming tutorial that is based on
Pyton knowledge instead of C knowledge.
> >>
> >> I personally would love such a thing.  It's been a while since I did
> >> anything nontrivial on my own in C++.
> >>
> >
> > One example: How do we code multiple return values?
> >
> > In Python:
> > - Return a tuple.
> >
> > In C:
> > - Use pointers (evilness)
> >
> > In C++:
> > - Return a std::tuple, as you would in Python.
> > - Use references, as you would in Fortran or Pascal.
> > - Use pointers, as you would in C.
> >
> > C++ textbooks always pick the last...
> >
> > I would show the first and the second method, and perhaps intentionally
forget the last.
> >
> > Sturla
> >
> I can add my own 2 cents about cython vs. C vs. C++, based on summer
> coding experiences.
> I was an intern at Enthought, sharing an office with Mark W. (Which
> was a treat. I recommend you all quit your day jobs and haunt whatever
> office Mark is inhabiting.) I was trying to optimize some code and
> that lead to experimenting with both cython and C.
> Dealing with the C internals of numpy was frustrating. Since C doesn't
> have templating but numpy kinda needs it, instead python scripts go
> over and manually perform templating. Not the most obvious thing.
> There were other issues  in the background--including C doesn't allow
> for abstraction (i.e. easy to read), lots of pointer-fu is required,
> and the C API is lightly documented and already plenty difficult.

Please understand that the argument is not to maintain a status quo.

Lack of API documentation, internals that need significant work are
certainly issues. I fail to see how writing in C++ will solve the
documentation issues.

On the abstraction side of things, let's agree to disagree. Plenty of
complex projects are written in both languages to make this a matter of
mostly subjective matter.

> On the flip side, cython looked pretty...but I didn't get the
> performance gains I wanted, and had to spend a lot of time figuring
> out if it was cython, needing to add types, buggy support for numpy,
> or actually the algorithm. The C files generated by cython were
> enormous and difficult to read. They really weren't meant for human
> consumption. As Sturla has said, regardless of the quality of the
> current product, it isn't stable.

Sturla represents only himself on this issue. Cython is widely held as a
successful and very useful tool. Many more projects in the scipy community
uses cython compared to C++.

And even if it looks friendly
> there's magic going on under the hood. Magic means it's hard to
> diagnose and fix problems. At least one very smart person has told me
> they find cython most useful for wrapping C/C++ libraries and exposing
> them to python, which is a far cry from library writing. (Of course
> Wes McKinney, a cython evangelist, uses it all over his pandas
> library.)

I am not very smart, but this is certainly close to what I had in mind as
well :) As you know, the lack of clear abstraction between c and c python
wrapping is one of the major issue in numpy. Cython is certainly one of the
most capable tool out there to avoid tedious reference bug chasing.

> In comparison, there are a number of high quality, performant,
> open-source C++ based array libraries out there with very friendly
> API's. Things like eigen
> (http://eigen.tuxfamily.org/index.php?title=Main_Page) and Armadillo
> (http://arma.sourceforge.net/). They seem to have plenty of users and
> more devs than

eigen is a typical example of code i hope numpy will never be close to.
This is again quite subjective, but it also shows that we have quite
different ideas on what maintainable/readable code means. Which is of
course quite alright. But it means a choice needs to be made. If a majority
of people find eigen more readable than a well written C library, then I
don't think anyone can reasonably argue against going to c++.

> On the broader topic of recruitment...sure, cython has a lower barrier
> to entry than C++. But there are many, many more C++ developers and
> resources out there than cython resources. And it likely will stay
> that way for quite some

I may not have explained it very well: my whole point is that we don't
recruite people, where I understand recruit as hiring full time,
profesional programmers.We need more people who can casually spend a few
hours - typically grad students, scientists with an itch. There is no doubt
that more professional programmers know c++ compared to C. But a community
project like numpy has different requirements than a "professional" project.

> -Chris
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