[Numpy-discussion] Numeric3

Travis Oliphant oliphant at ee.byu.edu
Fri Feb 4 11:20:44 EST 2005

konrad.hinsen at laposte.net wrote:

> On 04.02.2005, at 05:14, Michiel Jan Laurens de Hoon wrote:
>> give you an example from my own field (computational biology). I am  
>> one of the maintainers of Biopython, which uses LinearAlgebra and  
>> RandomArray. Many of our users are not very familiar with Python. 
>> Even  installing Numerical Python sometimes causes problems, and I'm 
>> sure we  have lost users in the past because of that. SciPy, in my 
>> experience,
> My experience with users of MMTK, nMOLDYN, and DomainFinder is 
> exactly  the same. Installationproblems are the #1 source for support  
> questions, in particular under Windows and Irix.
O.K.   I can see that there are several out there who belive that SciPy 
is sufficiently hard to install that they are concerned about requiring 
it for their math-using packages (despite the provided binary 
distributions, and the work that continues on making it easier to 
install).   I'm very glad to hear these comments, as I constantly wonder 
why people seem to be duplicating SciPy's efforts instead of helping 
SciPy.   I really would like to help make SciPy into something that many 
people can use.  We have done a lot of work in trying to make SciPy 
modular, just for this reason.

While I can appreciate that installation issues are a major headache 
(one reason I support the idea of selling binary-only copies to 
customers), I think that this is an issue no matter what packages you 
decide to deliver, so I don't think it negates my comments that we 
should package numeric routines under the same framework (right now, 
since SciPy already exists, why not there?)

I'm glad to hear at least one specific regarding installation, and that 
is the use of FORTRAN code in SciPy.   I would be very interested to 
know which platforms people have installation difficulties caused by the 
use of FORTRAN.   The biggest problem, I see, is not using FORTRAN, but 
trying to support all the different FORTRAN compilers that might get 
used.  Pearu has done a magnificient job in this difficult area, 

I very much want to get at the root of why people are staying aloof from 
SciPy, and fix the problems if we can.  SciPy is very much an open 
project.  It is what it is because of the people involved.   Those of us 
developing it so far are pretty easy going and are willing to make 
changes to make others more satisfied with the result.

>> So I would suggest the following demarcation line between Numerical  
>> Python and SciPy:
>> Stuff that is needed by lots of users (linear algebra, FFT, random  
>> numbers, special functions) and is available in ANSI-C (so its  
>> installation is straightforward and won't cause problems to users 
>> who  don't need it) should go into Numerical Python.
If this is an important distinction, why not just place this division in 
SciPy itself?   SciPy's goal is not to be "hard to install", or "only 
for power users."    If these installation issues are real and cannot be 
fixed with better installers, then those of us at SciPy would be very 
glad to see an "easy-to-install" scipy sub-package, that fits into a 
single framework.   

In other words,  why aren't you helping make SciPy better, instead of 
just re-creating what it is doing.  Are you really saying that "scipy is 
beyond hope for me to help?"      Even if you can't get in and change 
SciPy, offering concrete suggestions such as  the one just offered 
"FORTRAN code is too hard to install and so there should be subset of 
SciPy in ANSI-C only" is great.   Then, we can discuss this issue, 
really get to the root of it, and fix the problem.

It would appear that so few actually want to do that.  I actually 
understand, because it sometimes means giving up a treasured notion that 
doesn't fit into the picture, and this happens to me over and over 
again.    Perhaps it is unavoidable.

In sum, I would prefer to see people rally behind SciPy and fix it to be 
a package (or collection of packages) that all can use.  If that doesn't 
happen, I certainly won't fight people who want to make Numeric Packages 
instead.   It just will not be a high priority for me and so won't 
appear in my workflow. 


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