[Numpy-discussion] Re: [SciPy-dev] Future directions for SciPy in light of meeting at Berkeley

Stephen Walton stephen.walton at csun.edu
Wed Mar 9 09:34:29 EST 2005

I only have a little to contribute at this point:

> Proposal: 
> Incorporate matplotlib as part of the scipy framework (replacing plt). 

While this is an admirable goal, I personally find scipy and matplotlib 
easy to install separately.  The only difficulty (of course!) is the 
numarray/numeric split, so I have to be sure that I select numerix as 
Numeric in my .matplotlibrc file before typing 'ipython -pylab -p 
scipy', which actually works really well.

> 2) Installation problems -- I'm not completely clear on what the 
> "installation problems" really are. 

scipy and matplotlib are both very easy to install.  Using ATLAS is the 
biggest pain, as Travis says, and one can do without it.  Now that a 
simple 'scipy setup.py bdist_rpm' seems to work reliably, I for one am 

I think splitting scipy up into multiple subpackages isn't such a good 
idea.  Perhaps I'm in the minority, but I find CPAN counter-intuitive, 
hard to use, and hard to keep track of in an RPM-based environment.  Any 
large package is going to include a lot of stuff most people don't need, 
but like a NY Times ad used to say, "You might not read it all, but 
isn't it nice to know it's all there?"

I can tell you why I'm not contributing much code to the effort at least 
in one recent instance.  Since I'm still getting core dumps when I try 
to use optimize.leastsq with a defined Jacobian function, I dove into 
_minpackmodule.c and its associated routines last night.  I'm at sea. I 
know enough Python to be dangerous, used LMDER from Fortran extensively 
while doing my Ph.D., and am pretty good at C, but am completely 
unfamiliar with the Python-C API.  So I don't even know how to begin 
tracking the problem down.

Finally, as I mentioned at SciPy04, our particular physics department is 
at an undergraduate institution (no Ph.D. program), so we mainly produce 
majors who stop at the B.S. or M.S. degree.  Their job market seems to 
want MATLAB skills, not Python, at the moment, so that's what the 
faculty are learning and teaching to their students.  Many of them/us 
simply don't have the time to learn Python on top of that.  Though, when 
I showed some colleagues how trivial it was to trim some unwanted bits 
out of data files they had using Python, I think I converted them.

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