[Numpy-discussion] Scipy 2017 NumPy sprint

Stephan Hoyer shoyer at gmail.com
Thu Jul 6 13:03:19 EDT 2017

On Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 4:42 AM, Ben Rowland <bennyrowland at mac.com> wrote:

> Slightly off topic, but as someone who has just spent a fair amount of
> time implementing various
> subclasses of nd-array, I am interested (and a little concerned), that the
> consensus is not to use
> them. Is there anything available which explains why this is the case and
> what the alternatives
> are?

Writing such docs (especially to explain how to write array-like objects
that aren't subclasses) would be another good topic for the sprint ;).

But more seriously: numpy.ndarray subclasses are supported, but inherently
error prone, because we don't have a well defined subclassing API. As
Martin will attest, this means seemingly harmless internal refactoring in
NumPy has a tendency to break downstream subclasses, which often
unintentionally end up relying on untested implementation details.

This is particularly problematic when subclasses are implemented in a
different code-base, as is the case for user subclasses of numpy.ndarray.
Due to diligent testing efforts, we often (but not always) catch these
issues before making a release, but the process is inherently error prone.
Writing NumPy functionality in a manner that is robust to all possible
subclassing approaches turns out to be very difficult (nearly impossible).

This is actually a classic OOP problem, e.g., see
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