[Numpy-discussion] asanyarray vs. asarray

Ralf Gommers ralf.gommers at gmail.com
Wed Oct 31 20:28:01 EDT 2018

On Tue, Oct 30, 2018 at 2:22 PM Stephan Hoyer <shoyer at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Mon, Oct 29, 2018 at 9:49 PM Eric Wieser <wieser.eric+numpy at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> The latter - changing the behavior of multiplication breaks the principle.
>> But this is not the main reason for deprecating matrix - almost all of
>> the problems I’ve seen have been caused by the way that matrices behave
>> when sliced. The way that m[i][j] and m[i,j] are different is just one
>> example of this, the fact that they must be 2d is another.
>> Matrices behaving differently on multiplication isn’t super different in
>> my mind to how string arrays fail to multiply at all.
>> Eric
> It's certainly fine for arithmetic to work differently on an element-wise
> basis or even to error. But np.matrix changes the shape of results from
> various ndarray operations (e.g., both multiplication and indexing), which
> is more than any dtype can do.
> The Liskov substitution principle (LSP) suggests that the set of
> reasonable ndarray subclasses are exactly those that could also in
> principle correspond to a new dtype.

I don't think so. Dtypes have nothing to do with a whole set of use cases
that add extra methods or attributes. Random made-up example: user has a
system with 1000 sensor signals, some of which should be treated with
robust statistics for <reasons like unreliable hardware>. So user writes a
subclass robust_ndarray, adds a bunch of methods like median/iqr/mad, and
uses isinstance checks in functions that accept both ndarray and
robust_ndarray to figure out how to preprocess sensor signals.

Of course you can do everything you can do with subclasses also in other
ways, but such "let's add some methods or attributes" are much more common
(I think, hard to prove) than "let's change how indexing or multiplication
works" in end user code.


> Of np.ndarray subclasses in wide-spread use, I think only the various
> "array with units" types come close satisfying this criteria. They only
> fall short insofar as they present a misleading dtype (without unit
> information).
> The main problem with subclassing for numpy.ndarray is that it guarantees
> too much: a large set of operations/methods along with a specific memory
> layout exposed as part of its public API. Worse, ndarray itself is a little
> quirky (e.g., with indexing, and its handling of scalars vs. 0d arrays). In
> practice, it's basically impossible to layer on complex behavior with these
> exact semantics, so only extremely minimal ndarray subclasses don't violate
> LSP.
> Once we have more easily extended dtypes, I suspect most of the good use
> cases for subclassing will have gone away.
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