[Numpy-discussion] On responding to dubious ideas (was: Re: Advanced indexing: "fancy" vs. orthogonal)

Eric Firing efiring at hawaii.edu
Wed Apr 8 15:05:08 EDT 2015

On 2015/04/08 8:09 AM, Alan G Isaac wrote:
> That analogy fails because it suggests a private conversation. This list is extremely public.
> For example, I am just a user, and I am on it.  I can tell you that as a long-time numpy user
> my reaction to the proposal to change indexing semantics was (i) OMG YMBFKM and then
> (ii) take a breath; this too will fade away.  It is very reasonable to worry that some users
> will start at the same place but them move in a different direction, and that worry should
> affect how such proposals are floated and discussed.  I am personally grateful that the
> idea's reception has been so chilly; it's very reassuring.

OK, so I was not sufficiently tactful when I tried to illustrate the 
real practical problem associated with a *core* aspect of numpy.  My 
intent was not to alarm users, and I apologize if I have done so. I'm 
glad you have been reassured. I know perfectly well that 
back-compatibility and stability are highly important.  What I wanted to 
do was to stimulate thought about how to handle a serious challenge to 
numpy's future--short-term, and long-term.  Jaime's PR is a very welcome 
response to that challenge, but it might not be the end of the story. 
Matthew nicely sketched out one possible scenario, or actually a range 
of scenarios.

Now, can we please get back to consideration of reasonable options? 
What sequence of steps might reduce the disconnect between numpy and the 
rest of the array-handling world?  And make it a little friendlier for 

Are there *any* changes to indexing, whether by default or as an option, 
that would help?  Consider the example I started with, in which indexing 
with [1, :, array] gives results that many find surprising and hard to 
understand.  Might it make sense to *slowly* deprecate this?  Or are 
such indexing expressions actually useful?  If they are, would it be out 
of the question to have them *optionally* trigger a warning, so that 
numpy could be configured to be a little less likely to trip up a 
non-expert user?


> fwiw,
> Alan
> On 4/7/2015 9:06 PM, Nathaniel Smith wrote:
>> If a grad student or junior colleague comes to you with an
>> idea where you see some potentially critical flaw, do you
>> yell THAT WILL NEVER WORK and kick them out of your
>> office? Or, do you maybe ask a few leading questions and
>> see where they go?
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