[Numpy-discussion] proposal: smaller representation of string arrays

Robert Kern robert.kern at gmail.com
Mon Apr 24 14:47:21 EDT 2017

On Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 10:51 AM, Aldcroft, Thomas <
aldcroft at head.cfa.harvard.edu> wrote:
> On Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 1:04 PM, Chris Barker <chris.barker at noaa.gov>

>> - round-tripping of binary data (at least with Python's
encoding/decoding) -- ANY string of bytes can be decodes as latin-1 and
re-encoded to get the same bytes back. You may get garbage, but you won't
get an EncodingError.
> +1.  The key point is that there is a HUGE amount of legacy science data
in the form of FITS (astronomy-specific binary file format that has been
the primary file format for 20+ years) and HDF5 which uses a character data
type to store data which can be bytes 0-255.  Getting an decoding/encoding
error when trying to deal with these datasets is a non-starter from my

That says to me that these are properly represented by `bytes` objects, not
`unicode/str` objects encoding to and decoding from a hardcoded latin-1

Robert Kern
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