[Python-Dev] Clarification sought about including a multidimensional array object into Python core

Travis Oliphant oliphant at ee.byu.edu
Wed Feb 9 22:43:34 CET 2005

There has recently been some much-needed discussion on the 
numpy-discussions list run by sourceforge regarding the state of the 
multidimensional array objects available for Python.  It is desired by 
many that there be a single multidimensional array object in the Python 
core to facilitate data transfer and interfacing between multiple packages.

I am a co-author of the current PEP regarding inclusion of the 
multidimensional array object into the core.  However, that PEP is 
sorely outdated.  Currently there are two multidimensional array objects 
that are in use in the Python community:
   Numeric --- original arrayobject created by Jim Hugunin and many 
others.  Has been developed and used for 10 years.  An upgrade that adds 
the features of numarray but maintains the same basic structure of 
Numeric called Numeric3 is in development and will be ready for more 
wide-spread use in a couple of weeks.

   Numarray --- in development for about 3 years.  It was billed by some 
as a replacement for Numeric,.  While introducing some new features, it 
still has not covered the full feature set that Numeric had making it 
impossible for all Numeric users to use it.  In addition, it is still 
unacceptably slow for many operations that Numeric does well. 

Scientific users will always have to install more packages in order to 
use Python for their purposes.  However, there is still the desire that 
the basic array object would be common among all Python users.   To 
assist in writing a new PEP, we need clarification from Guido and others 
involved regarding

1) What specifically about Numeric prevented it from being acceptable as 
an addition to the Python core.
2) Are there any fixed requirements (other than coding style) before an 
arrayobject would be accepted into the Python core.

Thanks for your comments.  I think they will help the discussion 
currently taking place.

-Travis Oliphant

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