[Numpy-discussion] Missing data wrap-up and request for comments

Paul Ivanov pivanov314 at gmail.com
Wed May 9 20:13:50 EDT 2012

On Wed, May 9, 2012 at 3:12 PM, Travis Oliphant <travis at continuum.io> wrote:

> On re-reading, I want to make a couple of things clear:
> 1) This "wrap-up" discussion is *only* for what to do for NumPy 1.7 in
> such a way that we don't tie our hands in the future.    I do not believe
> we can figure out what to do for masked arrays in one short week.   What
> happens beyond NumPy 1.7 should be still discussed and explored.    My
> urgency is entirely about moving forward from where we are in master right
> now in a direction that we can all accept.      The tight timeline is so
> that we do *something* and move forward.
> 2) I missed another possible proposal for NumPy 1.7 which is in the
> write-up that Mark and Nathaniel made:  remove the masked array additions
> entirely possibly moving them to another module like numpy-dtypes.
> Again, these are only for NumPy 1.7.   What happens in any future NumPy
> and beyond will depend on who comes to the table for both discussion and
> code-development.

I'm glad that this sentence made it into the write-up: "A project like
numpy requires developers to write code for advancement to occur, and
obstacles that impede the writing of code discourage existing developers
from contributing more, and potentially scare away developers who are
thinking about joining in." I agree, which is why I'm a little surprised
after reading the write-up that there's no deference to the alterNEP
(admittedly kludgy) implementation? One of the arguments made for the NEP
"preliminary NA-mask implementation" is that "has been extensively tested
against scipy and other third-party packages, and has been in master in a
stable state for a significant amount of time." It is my understanding that
the manner in which this implementation found its way into master was a
source of concern and contention. To me (and I don't know the level to
which this is a technically feasible) that's precisely the reason that BOTH
approaches be allowed to make their way into numpy with experimental
status. Otherwise, it seems that there is a sort of "scaring away" of
developers - seeing (from the sidelines) how much of a struggle it's been
for the alterNEP to find a nurturing environment as an experimental
alternative inside numpy. In my reading, the process and consensus threads
that have generated so many responses stem precisely from trying to have an
atmosphere where everyone is encouraged to join in. The alternatives
proposed so far (though I do understand it's only for 1.7) do not suggest
an appreciation for the gravity of the fallout from the neglect the
alterNEP and the issues which sprang forth from that.

Importantly, I find a problem with how personal this document (and
discussion) is - I'd much prefer if we talk about technical things by a
descriptive name, not the person who thought of it. You'll note how I've
been referring to NEP and alterNEP above. One advantage of this is that
down the line, if either Mark or Nathaniel change their minds about their
current preferred way forward, it doesn't take the wind out of it with
something like "Even Paul changed his mind and now withdraws his support of
Paul's proposal." We should only focus on the technical merits of a given
approach, not how many commits have been made by the person proposing them
or what else they've done in their life: a good idea has value regardless
of who expresses it. In my fantasy world, with both approaches clearly
existing in an experimental sandbox inside numpy, folks who feel primary
attachments to either NEP or alterNEP would be willing to cross party lines
and pitch in towardd making progress in both camps. That's the way we'll
find better solutions, by working together, instead of working in

Paul Ivanov
314 address only used for lists,  off-list direct email at:
http://pirsquared.org | GPG/PGP key id: 0x0F3E28F7
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