[SciPy-user] Re: SciPy-- convincing my lab to switch to SciPy/Python

Travis Oliphant oliphant at ee.byu.edu
Wed Apr 27 13:51:02 CDT 2005

Josh Tasman wrote:

> Python seems like a good choice for our lab, as it's relatively easy 
> for  novice programmers to work with (vs C++ or perl.)  More 
> importantly, it has a large community behind it.
> Specifically, I need to convince my lab (and myself) that Python/SciPy 
> is a robust replacement for Matlab.  Primarily, I need more info 
> regarding the reliability of numeric computation.  Programs like 
> Matlab and Mathematica go through rigorous mathematical testing.  
> What's the state of 

> SciPy in this regard?  Would you stand behind it for 
> publication-quality work?

The reliability of SciPy is somewhat mixed.     Most of the actual 
algorithms are based on FORTRAN code that has been around for literally 
decades and are quite reliable.   On the other hand, you may still find 
bugs in some of the less well-tested and not-as-often-used routines.   
Most of the time, these bugs are small easy-to-fix Python-interface bugs.

Many people use and rely on the numerical algorithms in scipy everyday.  
Enthought uses scipy to deliver numerical products to their clients.  
Several researchers use scipy in their publishable work.   Many 
scientists at the national labs (Argonne, Livermore, Sandia, etc.) all 
use Python for numerical work.

I would absolutely stand by SciPy for publication-quality work.  I've 
published using SciPy.   I think it's preferrable to proprietary 
solutions for publications, because it actually allows someone to 
reproduce your work and even inspect the code used to produce your 
work.   So it is more in keeping with the academic philosophy.

> How would you compare SciPy's signal processing tools vs. Matlab's?
SciPy has quite a few of the tools that Matlab has (but not everything, 
yet), and adding your own is not difficult.   I've found it much easier, 
for example, to add a tool to scipy then to go back to MATLAB for data 

Wavelets are missing (but there is interest here and some people are 
working on it).

Look at the docs at http://www.scipy.org/livedocs/  for an overview.

If there is something you need that is missing, speak up, maybe somebody 
can contribute it.

-Travis O.


Scipy-Numeric is going through some changes that should be in place in a 
couple of months.   My suggestion is to start using scipy and then make 
the push to your people in a few months.

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