[SciPy-dev] Volunteer for Scipy Project

Anne Archibald peridot.faceted@gmail....
Mon Oct 5 23:14:36 CDT 2009

2009/10/5 Charles R Harris <charlesr.harris@gmail.com>:
> On Mon, Oct 5, 2009 at 7:29 PM, Anne Archibald <peridot.faceted@gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> 2009/10/5 Charles R Harris <charlesr.harris@gmail.com>:
>> >
>> >
>> > On Mon, Oct 5, 2009 at 3:20 PM, Anne Archibald
>> > <peridot.faceted@gmail.com>
>> > wrote:
>> >>
>> >> 2009/10/5 David Goldsmith <d.l.goldsmith@gmail.com>:
>> >> > Just curious, Anne: have you anything in particular in mind (i.e.,
>> >> > are
>> >> > there
>> >> > some small - or gaping - holes in scipy (IYO, of course) which you
>> >> > know
>> >> > could be filled by a careful implementation of something(s) extant in
>> >> > the
>> >> > literature)?
>> >>
>> >> Well, not exactly - the examples I had in mind were minor and/or in
>> >> the past. I ran into problems with scipy's hyp2f1, for example, so I
>> >> went and looked up the best algorithm I could find for it (and I think
>> >> I contributed that code). I wanted the Kuiper test as an alternative
>> >> to the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test (it's invariant under cyclic
>> >> permutations, and is sensitive to different features of the
>> >> distribution) so I looked up the test and the special function needed
>> >> to interpret its results. (I haven't contributed this to scipy yet,
>> >> mostly because I chose an interface that's not particularly compatible
>> >> with that for scipy's K-S test.) And on a larger scale, that's what
>> >> scipy.spatial's kdtree implementation is.
>> >>
>> >> For examples where I think a bit of lit review plus implementation
>> >> work might help, I'd say that the orthogonal polynomials could use
>> >> some work - the generic implementation in scipy.special falls apart
>> >> rapidly as you go to higher orders. I always implement my own
>> >> Chebyshev polynomials using the cos(n*arccos(x)) expression, for
>> >> example, and special implementations for the others might be very
>> >> useful.
>> >>
>> >
>> > At what order does the scipy implementation of the Chebyshev polynomials
>> > fall apart? I looked briefly at that package a long time ago, but never
>> > used
>> > it. I ask so I can check the chebyshev module that is going into numpy.
>> By n=30 they are off by as much as 0.0018 on [-1,1]; n=31 they are off
>> by 0.1, and by n=35 they are off by four - not great for values that
>> should be in the interval [-1,1]. This may seem like an outrageously
>> high degree for a polynomial, but there's no reason they need be this
>> bad, and one could quite reasonably want to use an order this high,
>> say for function approximation.
> Hmm, I get an maximum error of about 1e-13 for n=100 using my routine, which
> isn't great and can be improved a bit with a few tricks, but is probably
> good enough.  That's using simple Clenshaw recursion for the evaluation.
> There must be something seriously wrong with the scipy version. I routinely
> use fits with n > 50 because truncating such a series gives a good
> approximation to the minmax fit and it's also nice to see how the
> coefficients fall off to estimate the size of the truncation error.

Upon closer inspection, it seems that scipy starts from the recurrence
relation but then uses it only to extract roots, which it then uses to
construct a poly1d instance. (Which presumably then goes on to convert
it into the 1, x, x**2, ... basis.) This is numerically disastrous.

The reason it does this is because scipy doesn't (didn't) have a
general-purpose polynomial class that can keep the polynomial in other
representations. What do you think of the idea of a polynomial class
that supports several different bases for the set of polynomials? (At
least, the power basis and Chebyshev polynomials, but possibly also
the other orthogonal polynomials. Translated and scaled bases might
come in handy too.) Too general? Not general enough (barycentric
representations, representation in terms of roots)? I think it could
be done without too much difficulty.


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