[Numpy-discussion] Help Understanding Indexing Behavior

Charles R Harris charlesr.harris at gmail.com
Tue Feb 25 23:39:44 EST 2014

On Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 6:01 PM, Daniele Nicolodi <daniele at grinta.net>wrote:

> On 26/02/2014 00:04, JB wrote:
> > At the risk of igniting a flame war...can someone please help me
> understand
> > the indexing behavior of NumPy? I will readily I admit I come from a
> Matlab
> > background, but I appreciate the power of Python and am trying to learn
> more.
> >
> >>From a Matlab user's perspective, the behavior of indexing in NumPy seems
> > very bizarre. For example, if I define an array:
> >
> > x = np.array([1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10])
> >
> > If I want the first 5 elements, what do I do? Well, I say to myself,
> Python
> > is zero-based, whereas Matlab is one-based, so if I want the values 1 -
> 5,
> > then I want to index 0 - 4. So I type: x[0:4]
> The Python slicing syntax a:b defines the interval [a, b), while the
> Matlab syntax defines the interval [a:b].
> This post from Guido van Rossum (the creator of Python) explains the
> choice of zero indexing and of this particular slice notation:
> https://plus.google.com/115212051037621986145/posts/YTUxbXYZyfi
> I actually find how Python works more straight forward: obtaining the
> first n elements of array x is simply x[:n], and obtaining n elements
> starting at index i is x[i:i+n].
To enlarge just a bit, as said, python indexing comes from C, Matlab
indexing comes from Fortran/Matrix conventions. If you look at how Fortran
compiles, it translates to zero based under the hood, starting with a
pointer to memory one location before the actual array data, so  C just got
rid of that little wart.

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