len() should always return something
tjreedy at udel.edu
Fri Jul 24 20:52:38 CEST 2009
Phillip M. Feldman wrote:
> I've been converting Matlab codes to Python. In Matlab, a scalar is
> just a one-by-one matrix and has a length of 1. This convention seems
> no less arbitrary to me than Python's convention that the concept of
> length is not applicable to ints and floats.
Multiplication of a vector/matrix by a scalar always defined and
commutative. Multiplication of a vector/matrix by a 1x1 matrix is not
always even defined. So not having scalars in a matrix package strikes
me as a bit odd.
> My workaround was to write
> the following function:
> def is_scalar(x):
> """Return True if x is an instance of int, float, or complex.
> Otherwise, return False. Note: If x is a length-1 list or array
> containing an int, float, or complex value, False is returned."""
> if isinstance(x,int) or isinstance(x,float) or isinstance(x,complex):
Better: if isinstance(x, (int, float, complex)):
but you forgot decimals and fractions and any other possible number modules.
>>> from numbers import Number
>>> from decimal import Decimal
>>> from fractions import Fraction
>>> for x in 1, 1.0, (1+0j), Decimal(1), Fraction(1,1):
and the same for any other module that registers a class as a Number
> return True
> return False
> The application is the following: In various types of scientific
> applications, one operates on a list of measurements. If there is only
> a single measurement, it is reasonable to allow the calling program to
> pass a scalar without wrapping it up into a list or array.
If you want to do that, start with
except TypeError: x = x,
or in 3.1 use Number test above.
Terry Jan Reedy
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