SciPy

Detailed SciPy Roadmap

Most of this roadmap is intended to provide a high-level view on what is most needed per SciPy submodule in terms of new functionality, bug fixes, etc. Besides important “business as usual” changes, it contains ideas for major new features - those are marked as such, and are expected to take significant dedicated effort. Things not mentioned in this roadmap are not necessarily unimportant or out of scope, however we (the SciPy developers) want to provide to our users and contributors a clear picture of where SciPy is going and where help is needed most.

Note

This is the detailed roadmap. A very high-level overview with only the most important ideas is SciPy Roadmap.

General

This roadmap will be evolving together with SciPy. Updates can be submitted as pull requests. For large or disruptive changes you may want to discuss those first on the scipy-dev mailing list.

API changes

In general, we want to evolve the API to remove known warts as much as possible, however as much as possible without breaking backwards compatibility.

Also, it should be made (even) more clear what is public and what is private in SciPy. Everything private should be named starting with an underscore as much as possible.

Test coverage

Test coverage of code added in the last few years is quite good, and we aim for a high coverage for all new code that is added. However, there is still a significant amount of old code for which coverage is poor. Bringing that up to the current standard is probably not realistic, but we should plug the biggest holes.

Besides coverage there is also the issue of correctness - older code may have a few tests that provide decent statement coverage, but that doesn’t necessarily say much about whether the code does what it says on the box. Therefore code review of some parts of the code (stats, signal and ndimage in particular) is necessary.

Documentation

The documentation is in good shape. Expanding of current docstrings and putting them in the standard NumPy format should continue, so the number of reST errors and glitches in the html docs decreases. Most modules also have a tutorial in the reference guide that is a good introduction, however there are a few missing or incomplete tutorials - this should be fixed.

Benchmarks

The asv-based benchmark system is in reasonable shape. It is quite easy to add new benchmarks, however running the benchmarks is not very intuitive. Making this easier is a priority. In addition, we should run them in our CI (gh-8779 is an ongoing attempt at this).

Other

Regarding Cython code:

  • It’s not clear how much functionality can be Cythonized without making the .so files too large. This needs measuring.
  • Cython’s old syntax for using NumPy arrays should be removed and replaced with Cython memoryviews.

Regarding build environments:

  • SciPy builds from source on Windows now with a MSVC + MinGW-w64 gfortran toolchain, which we’re using for official releases. MSVC + Intel Fortran + MKL works as well, and is easier for users (as long as they have access to ifort and MKL of course). This mainly needs better documentation at the moment.
  • We’re aiming to gradually increase the minimum version of LAPACK that is required, so we can use newer features. Support for Accelerate on macOS has been dropped. We do rely quite heavily on OpenBLAS, and its stability is a worry (often only one of the recent releases works without test failures) - improvements in testing and build documentation at least are needed.

Continuous integration is in good shape, it covers Windows, macOS and Linux, as well as a range of versions of our dependencies and building release quality wheels.

Modules

cluster

This module is in good shape.

constants

This module is basically done, low-maintenance and without open issues.

fftpack

We aim to follow NumPy in adopting pocketfft (see this NumPy PR). That will address a number of maintenance issues, and increase performance (both accuracy and speed). Of particular interest regarding performance is the Bluestein algorithm (or chirp Z-transform), which we have been wanting to add to fftpack for a long time.

We probably want to deprecate fftpack.convolve as public function (it was not meant to be public).

There’s a large overlap with numpy.fft. This duplication has to change (both are too widely used to deprecate one); in the documentation we should make clear that scipy.fftpack is preferred over numpy.fft. If there are differences in signature or functionality, the best version should be picked case by case (example: numpy’s rfft is preferred, see gh-2487).

Ideas for new features:

  • Add a backend/plugin system. At the moment pyFFTW is monkeypatching SciPy, and mkl_fft provides fftpack-compatible functions as well. We should provide a method to support such packages.

integrate

Needed for ODE solvers:

  • Documentation is pretty bad, needs fixing
  • A new ODE solver interface (solve_ivp) was added in SciPy 1.0.0. In the future we can consider (soft-)deprecating the older API.

The numerical integration functions are in good shape. Support for integrating complex-valued functions and integrating multiple intervals (see gh-3325) could be added.

interpolate

Ideas for new features:

  • Spline fitting routines with better user control.
  • Transparent tensor-product splines.
  • NURBS support.
  • Mesh refinement and coarsening of B-splines and corresponding tensor products.

io

wavfile;

  • PCM float will be supported, for anything else use audiolab or other specialized libraries.
  • Raise errors instead of warnings if data not understood.

Other sub-modules (matlab, netcdf, idl, harwell-boeing, arff, matrix market) are in good shape.

linalg

scipy.linalg is in good shape. We have started requiring more recent LAPACK versions (minimum version increases from 3.1.0 to 3.4.0 in SciPy 1.2.0); we want to add support for newer features in LAPACK.

Needed:

  • Reduce duplication of functions with numpy.linalg, make APIs consistent.
  • get_lapack_funcs should always use flapack
  • Wrap more LAPACK functions
  • One too many funcs for LU decomposition, remove one

Ideas for new features:

  • Add type-generic wrappers in the Cython BLAS and LAPACK
  • Make many of the linear algebra routines into gufuncs

misc

scipy.misc will be removed as a public module. Most functions in it have been moved to another submodule or deprecated. The few that are left:

  • info, who : these are NumPy functions
  • derivative, central_diff_weight : remove, possibly replacing them with more extensive functionality for numerical differentiation.

ndimage

Underlying ndimage is a powerful interpolation engine. Users come with an expectation of one of two models: a pixel model with (1, 1) elements having centers (0.5, 0.5), or a data point model, where values are defined at points on a grid. Over time, we’ve become convinced that the data point model is better defined and easier to implement, but this should be clearly communicated in the documentation.

More importantly, still, SciPy implements one variant of this data point model, where datapoints at any two extremes of an axis share a spatial location under periodic wrapping mode. E.g., in a 1D array, you would have x[0] and x[-1] co-located. A very common use-case, however, is for signals to be periodic, with equal spacing between the first and last element along an axis (instead of zero spacing). Wrapping modes for this use-case were added in gh-8537, next the interpolation routines should be updated to use those modes. This should address several issues, including gh-1323, gh-1903, gh-2045 and gh-2640.

The morphology interface needs to be standardized:

  • binary dilation/erosion/opening/closing take a “structure” argument, whereas their grey equivalent take size (has to be a tuple, not a scalar), footprint, or structure.
  • a scalar should be acceptable for size, equivalent to providing that same value for each axis.
  • for binary dilation/erosion/opening/closing, the structuring element is optional, whereas it’s mandatory for grey. Grey morphology operations should get the same default.
  • other filters should also take that default value where possible.

odr

This module is in reasonable shape, although it could use a bit more maintenance. No major plans or wishes here.

optimize

Overall this module is in good shape. Two good global optimizers were added in 1.2.0; large-scale optimizers is still a gap that could be filled. Other things that are needed:

  • Many ideas for additional functionality (e.g. integer constraints, sparse matrix support, performance improvements) in linprog, see gh-9269.
  • Add functionality to the benchmark suite to compare results more easily (e.g. with summary plots).
  • deprecate the fmin_* functions in the documentation, minimize is preferred.

signal

Convolution and correlation: (Relevant functions are convolve, correlate, fftconvolve, convolve2d, correlate2d, and sepfir2d.) Eliminate the overlap with ndimage (and elsewhere). From numpy, scipy.signal and scipy.ndimage (and anywhere else we find them), pick the “best of class” for 1-D, 2-D and n-d convolution and correlation, put the implementation somewhere, and use that consistently throughout SciPy.

B-splines: (Relevant functions are bspline, cubic, quadratic, gauss_spline, cspline1d, qspline1d, cspline2d, qspline2d, cspline1d_eval, and spline_filter.) Move the good stuff to interpolate (with appropriate API changes to match how things are done in interpolate), and eliminate any duplication.

Filter design: merge firwin and firwin2 so firwin2 can be removed.

Continuous-Time Linear Systems: remove lsim2, impulse2, step2. The lsim, impulse and step functions now “just work” for any input system. Further improve the performance of ltisys (fewer internal transformations between different representations). Fill gaps in lti system conversion functions.

Second Order Sections: Make SOS filtering equally capable as existing methods. This includes ltisys objects, an lfiltic equivalent, and numerically stable conversions to and from other filter representations. SOS filters could be considered as the default filtering method for ltisys objects, for their numerical stability.

Wavelets: what’s there now doesn’t make much sense. Continuous wavelets only at the moment - decide whether to completely rewrite or remove them. Discrete wavelet transforms are out of scope (PyWavelets does a good job for those).

sparse

The sparse matrix formats are mostly feature-complete, however the main issue is that they act like numpy.matrix (which will be deprecated in NumPy at some point). What we want is sparse arrays, that act like numpy.ndarray. This is being worked on in https://github.com/pydata/sparse, which is quite far along. The tentative plan is:

  • Start depending on pydata/sparse once it’s feature-complete enough (it still needs a CSC/CSR equivalent) and okay performance-wise.
  • Add support for pydata/sparse to scipy.sparse.linalg (and perhaps to scipy.sparse.csgraph after that).
  • Indicate in the documentation that for new code users should prefer pydata/sparse over sparse matrices.
  • When NumPy deprecates numpy.matrix, vendor that or maintain it as a stand-alone package.

Regarding the different sparse matrix formats: there are a lot of them. These should be kept, but improvements/optimizations should go into CSR/CSC, which are the preferred formats. LIL may be the exception, it’s inherently inefficient. It could be dropped if DOK is extended to support all the operations LIL currently provides.

sparse.csgraph

This module is in good shape.

sparse.linalg

Arpack is in good shape.

isolve:

  • callback keyword is inconsistent
  • tol keyword is broken, should be relative tol
  • Fortran code not re-entrant (but we don’t solve, maybe re-use from PyKrilov)

dsolve:

  • add sparse Cholesky or incomplete Cholesky
  • look at CHOLMOD

Ideas for new features:

  • Wrappers for PROPACK for faster sparse SVD computation.

spatial

QHull wrappers are in good shape, as is cKDTree.

Needed:

  • KDTree will be removed, and cKDTree will be renamed to KDTree in a backwards-compatible way.
  • distance_wrap.c needs to be cleaned up (maybe rewrite in Cython).

special

Though there are still a lot of functions that need improvements in precision, probably the only show-stoppers are hypergeometric functions, parabolic cylinder functions, and spheroidal wave functions. Three possible ways to handle this:

  1. Get good double-precision implementations. This is doable for parabolic cylinder functions (in progress). I think it’s possible for hypergeometric functions, though maybe not in time. For spheroidal wavefunctions this is not possible with current theory.
  2. Port Boost’s arbitrary precision library and use it under the hood to get double precision accuracy. This might be necessary as a stopgap measure for hypergeometric functions; the idea of using arbitrary precision has been suggested before by @nmayorov and in gh-5349. Likely necessary for spheroidal wave functions, this could be reused: https://github.com/radelman/scattering.
  3. Add clear warnings to the documentation about the limits of the existing implementations.

stats

This module is in good shape overall. New functionality that’s similar to what’s already present can continue to be added; more advanced statistical routines may fit better in statsmodels. Some ideas for new contributions are:

  • Implementing (well-known) distributions to the stats.distributions framework is always welcome.
  • Continuing work on making the function signatures of stats and stats.mstats more consistent, and adding tests to ensure that that remains the case.
  • Return Bunch objects from functions that now return many values, and for functions for which extra return values are desired (see gh-3665).
  • Improve statistical tests (p-value calculation, alternative hypothesis), for example implement an exact two-sided KS test (see gh-8341) or a one-sided Wilcoxon test (see gh-9046).
  • There are a number of issues regarding stats.mannwhitneyu, and a stalled PR in gh-4933 could be picked up.