[Numpy-discussion] lazy evaluation

mark florisson markflorisson88 at gmail.com
Tue Jun 5 07:55:13 EDT 2012


Another discussion on lazy evaluation, given the recent activity here:
A somewhat recent previous thread can be found here:
, and a NEP here:

I think trying to parse bytecode and build an expression graph for
array expressions from that has disadvantages and is harder in
general. For instance it won't be able to deal with branching at
execution time, and things like inter-procedural analysis will be
harder (not to mention you'd have to parse dtype creation). Instead,
what you really want to do is hook into a lazy evaluating version of
numpy, and generate your own code from the operations it records.

It would be great if we implement the NEP listed above, but with a few
extensions. I think Numpy should handle the lazy evaluation part, and
determine when expressions should be evaluated, etc. However, for each
user operation, Numpy will call back a user-installed hook
implementing some interface, to allow various packages to provide
their own hooks to evaluate vector operations however they want. This
will include packages such as Theano, which could run things on the
GPU, Numexpr, and in the future
https://github.com/markflorisson88/minivect (which will likely have an
LLVM backend in the future, and possibly integrated with Numba to
allow inlining of numba ufuncs). The project above tries to bring
together all the different array expression compilers together in a
single framework, to provide efficient array expressions specialized
for any data layout (nditer on steroids if you will, with SIMD,
threaded and inlining capabilities).

We could allow each hook to specify which dtypes it supports, and a
minimal data size needed before it should be invoked (to avoid
overhead for small arrays, like the openmp 'if' clause). If an
operation is not supported, it will simply raise NotImplementedError,
which means Numpy will evaluate the expression built so far and run
its own implementation, resulting in a non-lazy array. E.g. if a
library supports adding things together, but doesn't support the 'sin'
function, np.sin(a + b) will result in the library executing a + b,
and numpy evaluating sin on the result. So the idea is that the numpy
lazy array will wrap an expression graph, which is built when the user
performs operations and evaluated when needed (when a result is
required or when someone tells numpy to evaluate all lazy arrays).
Numpy will simply use the first hook willing to operate on data of the
specified size and dtype, and will keep using that hook to build the
expression until evaluated.

Anyway, this is somewhat of a high-level overview. If there is any
interest, we can flesh out the details and extend the NEP.


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