[Numpy-discussion] Created NumPy 1.7.x branch

Perry Greenfield perry at stsci.edu
Mon Jun 25 18:21:30 EDT 2012

On Jun 25, 2012, at 3:25 PM, Charles R Harris wrote:

> On Mon, Jun 25, 2012 at 11:56 AM, Perry Greenfield <perry at stsci.edu>  
> wrote:
> It's hard to generalize that much here. There are some areas in what
> you say is true, particularly if whole industries rely on libraries
> that have much time involved in developing them, and for which it is
> particularly difficult to break away. But there are plenty of other
> areas where it isn't that hard.
> I'd characterize the process a bit differently. I would agree that it
> is pretty hard to get someone who has been using matlab or IDL for
> many years to transition. That doesn't happen very often (if it does,
> it's because all the other people they work with are using a different
> tool and they are forced to). I think we are targeting the younger
> people; those that do not have a lot of experience tied up in matlab
> or IDL. For example, IDL is very well established in astronomy, and
> we've seen few make that switch if they already have been using IDL
> for a while. But we are seeing many more younger astronomers choose
> Python over IDL these days.
> I didn't bring up the Astronomy experience, but I think that is a  
> special case because it is a fairly small area and to some extent  
> you had the advantage of a supported center, STSci, maintaining some  
> software. There are also a lot of amateurs who can appreciate the  
> low costs and simplicity of Python.
> The software engineers use tends to be set early, in college or in  
> their first jobs. I suspect that these days professional astronomers  
> spend a number of years in graduate school where they have time to  
> experiment a bit. That is a nice luxury to have.
Sure. But it's not unusual for an invasive technology (that's us) to  
take root in certain niches before spreading more widely.

Another way of looking at such things is: is what we are seeking to  
replace that much worse? If the gains are marginal, then it is very  
hard to displace. But if there are significant advantages, eventually  
they will win through. I tend to think Python and the scientific stack  
does offer the potential for great advantages over IDL or matlab. But  
that doesn't make it easy.


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