[SciPy-user] Pros and Cons of Python verses other array environments

Rob Hetland hetland at tamu.edu
Thu Sep 28 15:57:14 CDT 2006

On Sep 28, 2006, at 3:06 PM, A. M. Archibald wrote:

> This is a question of what *you* use - python is fairly good about
> keeping its fancy features out of the way of those who don't want to
> use them. The fact that you *can* write object-oriented programs
> doesn't affect the syntax you use to define a function (for example).

Yes, you can keep it simple, and not use classes out of the box.   
However, you are faced, immediately, with a bunch of different  
sequence objects -- at least tuples, lists, and arrays.  Then there  
is the issue of methods, which most science students I know have not  
encountered.  These things are not insurmountable, and the argument  
made below that a function in matlab must be a file is really  
powerful (and one I must have blotted from my memory).

All of the arguments made *for* PyLab are true -- you think so too,  
or you wouldn't be reading this.  I have been a huge proponent of  
PyLab, and have taught seminars on it here at Texas A&M and Woods  
Hole to people who primarily use MATLAB.  I have heard a number of  
objections or excuses that it all looks good, but.....
	- it's hard to install
	- I already know how to use MATLAB, and it works fine for me
	- when do I find a week (or month or semester) to learn a new  
programing language
	- I already have so many m-files that I would need to rewrite

Then there are the issues of bugs and beta quality software (not true  
anymore for numpy, but still true for mpl), small user community in  
your own research community (e.g., Oceanographers all use MATLAB), etc.

We need to think about the objections of the people who are *not*  
already here, and make sure we have an easy way for them to join us  
on the true path...


Rob Hetland, Associate Professor
Dept. of Oceanography, Texas A&M University
phone: 979-458-0096, fax: 979-845-6331

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