[Numpy-discussion] Response to PEP suggestions

Robert Kern rkern at ucsd.edu
Sat Feb 19 17:03:26 EST 2005

Colin J. Williams wrote:
> Robert Kern wrote:
>> konrad.hinsen at laposte.net wrote:
>>> It all depends on the reaction of the Python developer community. We  
>>> won't know before asking.
>> I think it would be great to have a more thorough number hierarchy in 
>> the standard library. So would some others. See PEPs 228 and 242. 
>> However, I think that the issue is orthogonal getting an multiarray 
>> object into the standard library. I'm not convinced that it actually 
>> solves the problems with getting multiarrays into the core. Now, we 
>> may have different priorities, so we have different thresholds of 
>> "problem-ness."
> PEP 228 is under consideration (since 2000):
>          Numerical Python Issues
>    People who use Numerical Python do so for high-performance vector
>    operations.  Therefore, NumPy should keep its hardware based
>    numeric model.

Note that the recommendation is that Numeric ignore PEP's number model. 
That PEP points *away* from things like Int32 and Float64.


> For PEP 242 the status is:
>    This PEP has been closed by the author.  The kinds module will not
>    be added to the standard library.
>    There was no opposition to the proposal but only mild interest in
>    using it, not enough to justify adding the module to the standard
>    library.  Instead, it will be made available as a separate
>    distribution item at the Numerical Python site.  At the next
>    release of Numerical Python, it will no longer be a part of the
>    Numeric distribution.
> It seems to be up to the numerical folk to make proposals.

Note also that PEP 242 was retracted before people got really interested 
    (by which I mean "interested enough to implement") in other number 
types like decimal and rationals. While historically these proposal have 
come from the NumPy community (which I'm distinguishing from "numerical 
folk"), in the future they will need to intimately involve a much larger 
group of people.

Of course, the NumPy community is a subset of "numerical folk," so we 
are naturally interested in how numbers are represented in Python. I'm 
not saying we shouldn't be or that such a proposal shouldn't come from 
this community. In general, such a thing would be of great use to this 
community. However, I don't see how it would help, in specific, the 
addition of multiarray objects to the standard library, nor do I think 
that such should wait upon the acceptance and implementation of such a 

Robert Kern
rkern at ucsd.edu

"In the fields of hell where the grass grows high
  Are the graves of dreams allowed to die."
   -- Richard Harter

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