[Numpy-discussion] ndarray.T2 for 2D transpose

Todd toddrjen at gmail.com
Thu Apr 7 11:22:44 EDT 2016

On Thu, Apr 7, 2016 at 3:39 AM, Irvin Probst <irvin.probst at ensta-bretagne.fr
> wrote:

> On 06/04/2016 04:11, Todd wrote:
> When you try to transpose a 1D array, it does nothing.  This is the
> correct behavior, since it transposing a 1D array is meaningless.  However,
> this can often lead to unexpected errors since this is rarely what you
> want.  You can convert the array to 2D, using `np.atleast_2d` or
> `arr[None]`, but this makes simple linear algebra computations more
> difficult.
> I propose adding an argument to transpose, perhaps called `expand` or
> `expanddim`, which if `True` (it is `False` by default) will force the
> array to be at least 2D.  A shortcut property, `ndarray.T2`, would be the
> same as `ndarray.transpose(True)`
> Hello,
> My two cents here, I've seen hundreds of people (literally hundreds)
> stumbling on this .T trick with 1D vectors when they were trying to do some
> linear algebra with numpy so at first I had the same feeling as you. But
> the real issue was that *all* these people were coming from matlab and
> expected numpy to behave the same way. Once the logic behind 1D vectors was
> explained it made sense to most of them and there were no more problems.
The problem isn't necessarily understanding, although that is a problem.
The bigger problem is having to jump through hoops to do basic matrix math.

> And by the way I don't see any way to tell apart a 1D "row vector" from a
> 1D "column vector", think of a code mixing a Rn=>R jacobian matrix and some
> data supposed to be used as measurements in a linear system, so we have
> J=np.array([1,2,3,4]) and B=np.array([5,6,7,8]), what would the output of
> J.T2 and B.T2 be ?
As I said elsewhere, we already have a convention for this established by
`np.atleast_2d`.  1D arrays are treated as row vectors.  `np.hstack` and
`np.vstack` also treat 1D arrays as row vectors.  So `arr.T2` will follow
this convention, being equivalent to `np.atleast_2d(arr).T`.

> I think it's much better to get used to writing
> J=np.array([1,2,3,4]).reshape(1,4) and B=np.array([5,6,7,8]).reshape(4,1),
> then you can use .T and @ without any verbosity and at least if forces
> users (read "my students" here) to think twice before writing some linear
> algebra nonsense.
That works okay when you know beforehand what the shape of the array is
(although it may very well be the different between a simple, 1-line piece
of code and a 3-line piece of code).  But what if you try to turn this into
a general-purpose function?  Then any function that has linear algebra
needs to call `atleast_2d` on every value used in that linear algebra, or
use `if` tests.  And if you forget, it may not be obvious until much later
depending on what you initially use the function for and what you use it
for later.
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