[Numpy-discussion] Thoughts on getting "something" in the Python core

Travis Oliphant oliphant at ee.byu.edu
Thu Mar 31 15:53:01 EST 2005

To all interested in the future of arrays...

I'm still very committed to Numeric3 as I want to bring the numarray and 
Numeric people together behind a single array object for scientific 

But,  I've been thinking about the array protocol and thinking that it 
would be a good thing if this became universal.  One of the ways to make 
it universal is by having something that follows it in the Python core.

So, what if we proposed for the Python core not something like Numeric3 
(which would still exist in scipy.base and be everybody's favorite array 
:-) ),  but a very minimal array object (scaled back even from Numeric) 
that followed the array protocol and had some C-API associated with it.

This minimal array object would support 5 basic types ('bool', 
'integer', 'float', 'complex', 'Object').   (Maybe a void type could be 
defined and a void "scalar" introduced (which would be the bytes 
object)).  These types correspond to scalars already available in Python 
and so the whole 0-dim array Python scalar arguments could be ignored.   

Math could be done without ufuncs initially (people really needing speed 
would use scipy.base anyway).   But, more people in the Python community 
would be able to use arrays and get used to them.  And we would have a 
reference array_protocol object so that extension writers could write to 

I would not try a project like this until after scipy_core is out, but 
it's an interesting thing to think about.  I mainly wanted feedback on 
the basic concept.

An alternative would be to "add" multidimensionality to the array object 
already part of Python, fix it's reallocating with an exposed buffer 
problem, and add the array protocol.


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