[SciPy-User] Least-squares fittings with bounds: why is scipy not up to the task?

Charles R Harris charlesr.harris@gmail....
Fri Mar 9 11:50:48 CST 2012

On Fri, Mar 9, 2012 at 9:54 AM, Gael Varoquaux <
gael.varoquaux@normalesup.org> wrote:

> Hi Matt,
> I am not going to answer to the core of your message. I partly agree with
> it and partly disagree. I think that it is fair to have different points
> of view. In addition, I do share the opinion that the situation of
> developers in open source scientific software is not ideal. I've suffered
> from it personally.
> I just want to react to a couple of minor points
>    At no point has anyone from the scipy team expressed an interest in
> >    putting this into scipy.
> Who is the scipy team? What is the scipy team? Who could or should
> express such an interest? These are people struggling to maintain a
> massive package on their free time. It actually takes a lot of time to
> monitor the mailing lists and pick up offers like yours to turn them into
> something that can be integrated.
> Had you submitted a pull request, with code ready to be merged, i.e. with
> no extra work in terms of documentation, API or tests, I think that it
> would be legitimate to blame the scipy developers for lack of interest.
> That said, I can easily understand how such a pull request would fall
> between the cracks. It's unfortunate, not excusable, but it does happen.
> Indeed, in the projects I maintain, I am kept busy full time with pure
> maintenance work (bug fixing, answering emails, improving documentation).
> When I review and merge pull requests, a lot of the time they are for
> features that I do not need, and I spend full week ends adding tests,
> fixing numerical instabilities, completing the docs so that they can be
> merged. You have to realize that most contributions to open source
> projects actually add up to the workload of the core developers.
> Thankfully, not all of them. Teams do build upon people unexpectedly
> fixing bugs, contributing flawless code that can be merged in without any
> additional work.
> I personally have seen my time invested in maintenance of open source
> project go up and up for the last few years, until it was to a point
> where I was spending a major part of my free time on it. It ended up
> giving me a nasty back pain, and I started not answering bug reports,
> pull requests and support emails to preserve my health: it is not sane to
> spend all onces time in front of a computer.
> >    There are many kinds of skills.  Sometimes, not insulting your
> customers,
> >    colleagues, and potential collaborators is the most important one.
> Maybe I went over the top. I didn't want to sound insulting. I felt
> insulted, as an open source develop (even thought I am not a scipy
> developer). I am sorry that I ignited a flame. Getting worked out about
> email is never a good thing, and discussion pushing blame certainly don't
> help building a community. Maybe I shouldn't have sent this email, or I
> should have worded it differently. I apologize for the harsh tone. I
> certainly did feel bad when I received the original email, and I wanted
> to express it.
> >    For myself, I find it quite discouraging that the scipy team is so
> >    insular.
> Firstly, I would like to stress that I cannot consider myself as part of
> the scipy team. I contribute very little code to scipy. As a consequence
> I do not feel that I have much legitimacy in making decisions or
> comments on the codebase. Thus you shouldn't take my reaction as a
> reaction coming from the scipy team, but rather as coming from myself.
> Second, can I ask you what makes you think that the scipy team is
> insular? Scipy is a big project with a lot of history. As such it is
> harder to contribute to it than a small and light project. But I don't
> feel any dogmatism or clique attitude from the developers. And, by the
> way, if we are going to talk about the scipy developers, I encourage
> everybody to find out who they are, i.e. who has been contributing lately
> [1]. I don't think that the handful of people that come on top of the
> list have an insular behavior. I do think that they are on an island, in
> the sens that they are pretty much left alone to do the grunt work. None
> of these people reacted badly to any mail on this mailing list about the
> state of scipy. I raise my hat to them!

Carefully stepping past the kerfluffle at the bar, I think this sort of
functionality in scipy would be useful. If nothing else, I wouldn't have to
keep implementing for myself ;) IIRC, Dennis Lexalde was going to do
something similar and I think it would be good if some of the folks with
implementations started a separate thread about getting it into scipy.

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