[SciPy-dev] return type issue?

Travis Oliphant oliphant at ee.byu.edu
Mon Dec 19 23:12:13 CST 2005

Perry Greenfield wrote:

> I'd argue that most people would want to see the field array as the 
> type that it is rather than another instance of a recarray. Most of 
> the "fun" of doing this is to have something that can be manipulated 
> just like the numeric array that it is (i.e., ufuncs work on it, etc.) 
> I'd also argue that it is more pythonic in the sense that the field 
> indexing is akin to indexing a list or dictionary. When you do that 
> you get the type it contains, not another list or dictionary. If I 
> were select several fields, then yes, I would expect to get another 
> record array, but not if I select only 1. We can override this with 
> another subclass, but I wonder if this isn't so common a use case as 
> to make it automatic whenever the type of the field is a standard 
> array type.

I can see this point.  You do realize, however, that a recarray still 
has a type (and if that type is a fixed number type then the ufuncs 
work).   A recarray is a subclass of the ndarray and so it acts like an 
ndarray in almost every respect.  The only difference is that attribute 
access can be used to get at fields and the __new__ method is a bit 

So, the question is when should field selection (which can be done on 
all arrays) return the base-type or the sub-type.   I hesitate to 
enforce returning the base-type on all ndarrays because it seems 
limiting.  But it could easily be done simply by creating a base-type 
ndarray in the getfield method if the descriptor has no fields. 

I guess I'd like to see some real problems that emerge before changing 
the default behavior by inserting "special-case" code.  If we do want to 
place the special-case code to return ndarray's, or chararrays, or more 
recarray's,  I guess I would put it in the recarray subclass itself.


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