[Python-ideas] Expanding statistical functions in Python's std. lib.

Robert Kern robert.kern at gmail.com
Thu Sep 1 01:04:36 CEST 2011

On 8/31/11 5:23 PM, Guido van Rossum wrote:
> On Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 3:19 PM, Robert Kern<robert.kern at gmail.com>  wrote:
>> On 8/31/11 2:05 PM, Guido van Rossum wrote:
>>> You didn't get any responses AFAICT. That doesn't mean nobody is
>>> interested -- perhaps your proposal is simply too general? Do you feel
>>> up to making some more specific recommendations about the exact list
>>> of functions to add? It's easier to criticize a concrete proposal. Do
>>> you feel up to producing a patch that just adds the incomplete beta
>>> function?
>> It shows up deeply mis-threaded under "Create a StringBuilder class and use
>> it everywhere" in my client. Perhaps Spectral One should try reposting it so
>> that it shows up as a new thread.
> What client is that?

Thunderbird, via GMane, which may or may not be adding more confusion to the mix.

> In my GMail (for once) it shows up as a new
> thread with subject "Re: [Python-ideas] Expanding statistical
> functions in Python's std. lib." I guess your client got confused by
> some of these headers:
> References: <549901314286114 at web119.yandex.ru>
>        <4E56E859.3090504 at canterbury.ac.nz>
> In-Reply-To: <4E56E859.3090504 at canterbury.ac.nz>

And indeed, it shows up threaded under Greg Ewing's Aug 25 post to the 
StringBuilder thread. Email threading is something of an art, but I'm not sure 
it's right to say that my client is getting "confused" by taking the In-Reply-To 
header at its word. ;-)

Anyways, that's why I suspect he's not getting many responses. As to the 
substance of the proposal, I'm -0 on having the full complement of statistical 
distribution functions and +0 on adding just the incomplete beta function. 
Personally, I will never use any of them since I can get them from scipy. I am 
at least going to be using numpy to generate any of the test statistics that I 
would pass through these functions. I don't see anything particularly compelling 
about having them in the math module as opposed to a third party module (be it 
scipy or something lighter-weight).

That said, having a good complement of common special functions that can be used 
to build up a variety of less-common functions is a good thing to have in a 
standard library. I think you could defend adding the incomplete beta function 
on that principle, if nothing else. You could make a similar argument for the 
Bessel functions j0(), j1() and jn().

Robert Kern

"I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma
  that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had
  an underlying truth."
   -- Umberto Eco

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