[Numpy-discussion] is __array_ufunc__ ready for prime-time?

Stephan Hoyer shoyer at gmail.com
Thu Nov 2 15:37:01 EDT 2017

On Thu, Nov 2, 2017 at 9:45 AM <josef.pktd at gmail.com> wrote:

> similar, scipy.special has ufuncs
> what units are those?
> Most code that I know (i.e. scipy.stats and statsmodels) does not use only
> "normal mathematical operations with ufuncs"
> I guess there are a lot of "abnormal" mathematical operations
> where just simply propagating the units will not work.

> Aside: The problem is more general also for other datastructures.
> E.g. statsmodels for most parts uses only numpy ndarrays inside the
> algorithm and computations because that provides well defined
> behavior. (e.g. pandas behaved too differently in many cases)
> I don't have much idea yet about how to change the infrastructure to
> allow the use of dask arrays, sparse matrices and similar and possibly
> automatic differentiation.

This is the exact same reason why pandas and xarray do not support wrapping
arbitrary ndarray subclasses or duck array types. The operations we use
internally (on numpy.ndarray objects) may not be what you would expect
externally, and may even be implementation details not considered part of
the public API. For example, in xarray we use numpy.nanmean() or
bottleneck.nanmean() instead of numpy.mean().

For NumPy and xarray, I think we could (and should) define an interface to
support subclasses and duck types for generic operations for core
use-cases. My main concern with subclasses / duck-arrays is
undefined/untested behavior, especially where we might silently give the
wrong answer or trigger some undesired operation (e.g., loading a lazily
computed into memory) rather than raising an informative error. Leaking
implementation details is another concern: we have already had several
cases in NumPy where a function only worked on a subclass if a particular
method was called internally, and broke when that was changed.
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