SciPy Core Developer Guide#

Decision making process#

SciPy has a formal governance model, documented in SciPy Project Governance. The section below documents in an informal way what happens in practice for decision making about code and commit rights. The formal governance model is leading, the below is only provided for context.


Any significant decisions on adding (or not adding) new features, breaking backwards compatibility or making other significant changes to the codebase should be made on the scipy-dev forum after a discussion (preferably with full consensus).

Any non-trivial change (where trivial means a typo, or a one-liner maintenance commit) has to go in through a pull request (PR). It has to be reviewed by another developer. In case review doesn’t happen quickly enough and it is important that the PR is merged quickly, the submitter of the PR should send a message to the forum saying they intend to merge that PR without review at time X for reason Y unless someone reviews it before then.

Changes and new additions should be tested. Untested code is broken code.

Commit rights#

Who gets commit rights is decided by the SciPy Steering Council; changes in commit rights will then be announced on the scipy-dev forum.

Deciding on new features#

The general decision rule to accept a proposed new feature has so far been conditional on:

  1. The method is applicable in many fields and “generally agreed” to be useful,

  2. It fits the topic of the submodule, and does not require extensive support frameworks to operate,

  3. The implementation looks sound and unlikely to need much tweaking in the future (e.g., limited expected maintenance burden),

  4. Someone wants to contribute it, and

  5. Someone wants to review it.

The last criterion is often a sticking point for proposed features. Code cannot be merged until it has been thoroughly reviewed, and there is always a backlog of maintenance tasks that compete for reviewers’ time. Ideally, contributors should line up a reviewer with suitable domain expertise before beginning work.

Although it’s difficult to give hard rules on what “generally useful and generally agreed to work” means, it may help to weigh the following against each other:

  • Is the method used/useful in different domains in practice? How much domain-specific background knowledge is needed to use it properly?

  • Consider the code already in the module. Is what you are adding an omission? Does it solve a problem that you’d expect the module be able to solve? Does it supplement an existing feature in a significant way?

  • Consider the equivalence class of similar methods / features usually expected. Among them, what would in principle be the minimal set so that there’s not a glaring omission in the offered features remaining? How much stuff would that be? Does including a representative one of them cover most use cases? Would it in principle sound reasonable to include everything from the minimal set in the module?

  • Is what you are adding something that is well understood in the literature? If not, how sure are you that it will turn out well? Does the method perform well compared to other similar ones?

  • Note that the twice-a-year release cycle and backward-compatibility policy makes correcting things later on more difficult.

The scopes of the submodules also vary, so it’s probably best to consider each as if it’s a separate project - “numerical evaluation of special functions” is relatively well-defined, but “commonly needed optimization algorithms” less so.

Development on GitHub#

SciPy development largely takes place on GitHub; this section describes the expected way of working for issues, pull requests and managing the main scipy repository.

Labels and Milestones#

Each issue and pull request normally gets at least two labels: one for the topic or component (scipy.stats, Documentation, etc.), and one for the nature of the issue or pull request (enhancement, maintenance, defect, etc.). Other labels that may be added depending on the situation:

  • good-first-issue: for issues suitable to be tackled by new contributors.

  • needs-work: for pull requests that have review comments that haven’t been addressed.

  • needs-decision: for issues or pull requests that need a decision.

  • needs-champion: for pull requests that were not finished by the original author, but are worth resurrecting.

  • backport-candidate: bugfixes that should be considered for backporting by the release manager.

A milestone is created for each version number for which a release is planned. Issues that need to be addressed and pull requests that need to be merged for a particular release should be set to the corresponding milestone. After a pull request is merged, its milestone (and that of the issue it closes) should be set to the next upcoming release - this makes it easy to get an overview of changes and to add a complete list of those to the release notes.

Pull request review workflow#

When reviewing pull requests, please make use of pull request workflow features, see Using workflow features.

Dealing with pull requests#

  • When merging contributions, a committer is responsible for ensuring that those meet the requirements outlined in Contributing to SciPy. Also check that new features and backwards compatibility breaks were discussed on the scipy-dev forum.

  • New code goes in via a pull request (PR).

  • Merge new code with the green button. In case of merge conflicts, ask the PR submitter to rebase (this may require providing some git instructions).

  • Backports and trivial additions to finish a PR (really trivial, like a typo or PEP8 fix) can be pushed directly.

  • For PRs that add new features or are in some way complex, wait at least a day or two before merging it. That way, others get a chance to comment before the code goes in.

  • Squashing commits or cleaning up commit messages of a PR that you consider too messy is OK. Make sure though to retain the original author name when doing this. Squashing is highly recommended whenever commit messages do not (roughly) follow the guidelines in Writing the commit message.

  • Make sure that the labels and milestone on a merged PR are set correctly.

  • When you want to reject a PR: if it’s very obvious, you can just close it and explain why. If it’s not obvious, then it’s a good idea to first explain why you think the PR is not suitable for inclusion in SciPy, then let a second committer comment or close.


All pull requests (whether they contain enhancements, bug fixes or something else), should be made against main. Only bug fixes are candidates for backporting to a maintenance branch. The backport strategy for SciPy is to (a) only backport fixes that are important, and (b) to only backport when it’s reasonably sure that a new bugfix release on the relevant maintenance branch will be made. Typically, the developer who merges an important bugfix adds the backport-candidate label and pings the release manager, who decides on whether and when the backport is done. After the backport is completed, the backport-candidate label has to be removed again.

A good strategy for a backport pull request is to combine several main branch pull requests, to reduce the burden on continuous integration tests and to reduce the merge commit cluttering of maintenance branch history. It is generally best to have a single commit for each of the main branch pull requests represented in the backport pull request. This way, history is clear and can be reverted in a straightforward manner if needed.

Release notes#

When a PR gets merged, consider if the changes need to be mentioned in the release notes. What needs mentioning: new features, backwards incompatible changes, deprecations, and “other changes” (anything else noteworthy enough, see older release notes for the kinds of things worth mentioning).

Release note entries are maintained on the wiki. The release manager will gather content from there and integrate it into the html docs. We use this mechanism to avoid merge conflicts that would happen if every PR touched the same file under doc/release/ directly.

Changes can be monitored (Atom feed) and pulled (the wiki is a git repo:


Cross-referencing: Cross-referencing issues and pull requests on GitHub is often useful. GitHub allows doing that by using gh-xxxx or #xxxx with xxxx the issue/PR number. The gh-xxxx format is strongly preferred, because it’s clear that that is a GitHub link. Older issues contain #xxxx which is about Trac (what we used pre-GitHub) tickets.

PR naming convention: Pull requests, issues and commit messages usually start with a three-letter abbreviation like ENH: or BUG:. This is useful to quickly see what the nature of the commit/PR/issue is. For the full list of abbreviations, see writing the commit message.


SciPy is distributed under the modified (3-clause) BSD license. All code, documentation and other files added to SciPy by contributors is licensed under this license, unless another license is explicitly specified in the source code. Contributors keep the copyright for code they wrote and submit for inclusion to SciPy.

Other licenses that are compatible with the modified BSD license that SciPy uses are 2-clause BSD, MIT and PSF. Incompatible licenses are GPL, Apache and custom licenses that require attribution/citation or prohibit use for commercial purposes.

PRs are often submitted with content copied or derived from unlicensed code or code from a default license that is not compatible with SciPy’s license. For instance, code published on StackOverflow is covered by a CC-BY-SA license, which is not compatible due to the share-alike clause. These contributions cannot be accepted for inclusion in SciPy unless the original code author is willing to (re)license their code under the modified BSD (or compatible) license. If the original author agrees, add a comment saying so to the source files and forward the relevant communication to the scipy-dev forum.

Another common occurrence is for code to be translated or derived from code in R, Octave (both GPL-licensed) or a commercial application. Such code also cannot be included in SciPy. Simply implementing functionality with the same API as found in R/Octave/… is fine though, as long as the author doesn’t look at the original incompatibly-licensed source code.

Version numbering#

SciPy version numbering complies with PEP 440. Released final versions, which are the only versions appearing on PyPI, are numbered MAJOR.MINOR.MICRO where:

  • MAJOR is an integer indicating the major version. It changes very rarely; a change in MAJOR indicates large (possibly backwards-incompatible) changes.

  • MINOR is an integer indicating the minor version. Minor versions are typically released twice a year and can contain new features, deprecations and bug-fixes.

  • MICRO is an integer indicating a bug-fix version. Bug-fix versions are released when needed, typically one or two per minor version. They cannot contain new features or deprecations.

Released alpha, beta and rc (release candidate) versions are numbered like final versions but with postfixes a#, b# and rc# respectively, with # an integer. Development versions are postfixed with .dev0+<git-commit-hash>.

Examples of valid SciPy version strings are:


An installed SciPy version contains these version identifiers:

scipy.__version__            # complete version string, including git commit hash for dev versions
scipy.version.short_version  # string, only major.minor.micro
scipy.version.version        # string, same as scipy.__version__
scipy.version.full_version   # string, same as scipy.__version__
scipy.version.release        # bool, development or (alpha/beta/rc/final) released version
scipy.version.git_revision   # string, git commit hash from which scipy was built


There are various reasons for wanting to remove existing functionality: it’s buggy, the API isn’t understandable, it’s superseded by functionality with better performance, it needs to be moved to another SciPy submodule, etc.

In general, it’s not a good idea to remove something without warning users about that removal first. Therefore, this is what should be done before removing something from the public API:

  1. Propose to deprecate the functionality on the scipy-dev forum and get agreement that that’s OK.

  2. Add a DeprecationWarning for it, which states that the functionality was deprecated, and in which release. For Cython APIs, see Deprecating public Cython APIs for the practical steps.

  3. Mention the deprecation in the release notes for that release.

  4. Wait till at least 6 months after the release date of the release that introduced the DeprecationWarning before removing the functionality.

  5. Mention the removal of the functionality in the release notes.

The 6 months waiting period in practice usually means waiting two releases. When introducing the warning, also ensure that those warnings are filtered out when running the test suite so they don’t pollute the output.

It’s possible that there is reason to want to ignore this deprecation policy for a particular deprecation; this can always be discussed on the scipy-dev forum.

Vendored Code#

Many parts of the SciPy codebase are maintained elsewhere, and vendored in SciPy. Some of these parts are vendored as git submodules, for example, boost_math.

Other parts are not vendored as git submodules, despite having a maintained upstream. This is mainly for historical reasons, and it is possible that some of these parts will see patches contributed upstream and become git submodules in the future.

Maintainers should be careful to not accept contributions (especially trivial changes) into parts of SciPy where the code is actively maintained upstream. Instead, they should direct contributors to the upstream repo. Currently, this includes the following parts of the codebase:

  • DIRECT, at scipy/optimize/_direct

  • ARPACK, at scipy/sparse/linalg/_eigen/arpack/ARPACK

  • SuperLU, at scipy/sparse/linalg/_dsolve/SuperLU

  • QHull, at scipy/spatial/qhull_src

  • trlib, at scipy/optimize/_trlib

  • UNU.RAN, at scipy/stats/_unuran


Distributing Python packages is nontrivial - especially for a package with complex build requirements like SciPy - and subject to change. For an up-to-date overview of recommended tools and techniques, see the Python Packaging User Guide. This document discusses some of the main issues and considerations for SciPy.


Dependencies are things that a user has to install in order to use (or build/test) a package. They usually cause trouble, especially if they’re not optional. SciPy tries to keep its dependencies to a minimum; the current required and optional build time dependencies can be seen in SciPy’s configuration file, pyproject.toml. The only non-optional runtime dependency is NumPy.

Furthermore, of course one needs C, C++ and Fortran compilers to build SciPy, but we don’t consider those to be dependencies, and therefore they are not discussed here. For details, see Building from source.

When a package provides useful functionality and it’s proposed as a new dependency, consider also if it makes sense to vendor (i.e. ship a copy of it with SciPy) the package instead. For example, decorator is vendored in scipy._lib.

Issues with dependency handling#

There are some issues with how Python packaging tools handle dependencies reported by projects. Because SciPy gets regular bug reports about this, we go in a bit of detail here.

SciPy reports its dependency on NumPy via pyproject.toml for build purposes, and SciPy also has a runtime check that an appropriate version of NumPy is available. SciPy no longer uses setup_requires (which in the past invoked easy_install); build dependencies are now handled only via pyproject.toml. pyproject.toml relies on PEP 517; pip has --no-use-pep517 and --no-build-isolation flags that may ignore pyproject.toml or treat it differently - if users use those flags, they are responsible for installing the correct build dependencies themselves.

Version ranges for NumPy and other dependencies#

For dependencies it’s important to set lower and upper bounds on their versions. For build-time dependencies, they are specified in pyproject.toml and the versions will only apply to the SciPy build itself. It’s fine to specify either a range or a specific version for a dependency like meson-python or pybind11. For NumPy we have to worry about ABI compatibility too. However, with NumPy >=2.0.0rc1 backwards compatibility is guaranteed as far back as the NumPy 1.19 series so specification of a lowest supported version of NumPy at build time is no longer required in pyproject.toml.

For run-time dependencies (currently only numpy), we specify the range of versions in pyproject.toml and in scipy/ Getting the upper bound right is slightly tricky. If we don’t set any bound, a too-new version will be pulled in a few years down the line, and NumPy may have deprecated and removed some API that SciPy depended on by then. On the other hand if we set the upper bound to the newest already-released version, then as soon as a new NumPy version is released there will be no matching SciPy version that works with it. Given that NumPy and SciPy both release in a 6-monthly cadence and that features that get deprecated in NumPy should stay around for another two releases, we specify the upper bound as <2.xx+3.0 (where xx is the minor version of the latest already-released NumPy).

Supported Python and NumPy versions#

The Python versions that SciPy supports are listed in the list of PyPI classifiers in pyproject.toml, and mentioned in the release notes for each release. All newly released Python versions will be supported as soon as possible. For the general policy on dropping support for a Python or NumPy version, see NEP 29. The final decision on dropping support is always taken on the scipy-dev forum.

The lowest supported NumPy version for a SciPy version is mentioned in the release notes and is encoded in pyproject.toml and scipy/ Typically the latest SciPy release supports ~5-7 minor versions of NumPy: up to 2.5 years’ old NumPy versions, (given that the frequency of NumPy releases is about 2x/year at the time of writing) plus two versions into the future.

Supported versions of optional dependencies and compilers is documented in Toolchain Roadmap. Note that not all versions of optional dependencies that are supported are tested well or at all by SciPy’s Continuous Integration setup. Issues regarding this are dealt with as they come up in the issue tracker or forum.

Building binary installers#


This section is only about building SciPy binary installers to distribute. For info on building SciPy on the same machine as where it will be used, see this page.

There are a number of things to take into consideration when building binaries and distributing them on PyPI or elsewhere.


  • A binary is specific for a single (major) Python version (because different major Python versions aren’t ABI-compatible, at least up to Python 3.12).

  • Build against NumPy 2.0.0, then it will work for all NumPy versions with the same major version number (NumPy does maintain backwards ABI compatibility), and as far back as NumPy 1.19 series at the time of writing.

  • The easiest available toolchain for building portable SciPy binaries is our cibuildwheel infrastructure for common platforms, with details available in our CI infrastructure code and available via the cibuildwheel command on Windows, Linux, and MacOS, albeit with some extra external dependencies required in some cases


  • For 64-bit Windows installers built with a free toolchain, use the method documented at numpy/numpy. That method will likely be used for SciPy itself once it’s clear that the maintenance of that toolchain is sustainable long-term. See the MingwPy project and this thread for details.

  • The other way to produce 64-bit Windows installers is with icc, ifort plus MKL (or MSVC instead of icc). For Intel toolchain instructions see this article and for (partial) MSVC instructions see this wiki page.

  • Older SciPy releases contained a .exe “superpack” installer. Those contain 3 complete builds (no SSE, SSE2, SSE3), and were built with numpy/numpy-vendor. That build setup is known to not work well anymore and is no longer supported. It used g77 instead of gfortran, due to complex DLL distribution issues (see gh-2829). Because the toolchain is no longer supported, g77 support isn’t needed anymore and SciPy can now include Fortran 90/95 code.


  • PyPI-compatible Linux wheels can be produced via the manylinux project, which is used under the hood by our cibuildwheel infrastructure.

Other Linux build-setups result in PyPI incompatible wheels, which would need to be distributed via custom channels, e.g. in a Wheelhouse, see at the wheel and Wheelhouse docs.

Making a SciPy release#

At the highest level, this is what the release manager does to release a new SciPy version:

  1. Propose a release schedule in the SciPy forum at

  2. Create the maintenance branch for the release.

  3. Tag the release.

  4. Build all release artifacts (sources, installers, docs).

  5. Upload the release artifacts.

  6. Announce the release.

  7. Port relevant changes to release notes and build scripts to main.

In this guide we attempt to describe in detail how to perform each of the above steps. In addition to those steps, which have to be performed by the release manager, here are descriptions of release-related activities and conventions of interest:

Proposing a release schedule#

A typical release cycle looks like:

  • Create the maintenance branch

  • Release a beta version

  • Release a “release candidate” (RC)

  • If needed, release one or more new RCs

  • Release the final version once there are no issues with the last release candidate

There’s usually at least one week between each of the above steps. Experience shows that a cycle takes between 4 and 8 weeks for a new minor version. Bug-fix versions don’t need a beta or RC, and can be done much quicker.

Ideally the final release is identical to the last RC, however there may be minor difference - it’s up to the release manager to judge the risk of that. Typically, if compiled code or complex pure Python code changes then a new RC is needed, while a simple bug-fix that’s backported from main doesn’t require a new RC.

To propose a schedule, send a list with estimated dates for branching and beta/rc/final releases to the SciPy forum at In the same message, ask everyone to check if there are important issues/PRs that need to be included and aren’t tagged with the Milestone for the release or the “backport-candidate” label.

Creating the maintenance branch#

Before branching, ensure that the release notes are updated as far as possible. Include the output of tools/ and tools/ in the release notes.

Maintenance branches are named maintenance/<major>.<minor>.x (e.g. 0.19.x). To create one, simply push a branch with the correct name to the scipy repo. Immediately after, push a commit where you increment the version number on the main branch and add release notes for that new version. Send an email to the SciPy forum at to let people know that you’ve done this.

Updating the version switcher#

The version switcher dropdown needs to be updated with the new release information on the main branch only.

  • doc/source/_static/version_switcher.json: add the new release, the new development version, and transfer "preferred": true from the old release to the new release.

Updating upper bounds of dependencies#

In main we do not set upper bounds, because we want to test new releases or development versions of dependencies there. In a maintenance branch however, the goal is to be able to create releases that stay working for years. Hence correct upper bounds must be set. The following places must be updated after creating a maintenance branch:

  • pyproject.toml: all build-time dependencies, as well as supported Python

    and NumPy versions

  • scipy/ for NumPy version check

Each file has comments describing how to set the correct upper bounds.

Tagging a release#

First ensure that you have set up GPG correctly. See scipy/scipy#4919 for a discussion of signing release tags, and for instructions on creating a GPG key if you do not have one. Note that on some platforms it may be more suitable to use gpg2 instead of gpg so that passwords may be stored by gpg-agent as discussed in scipy/scipy#10189. When preparing a release remotely, it may be necessary to set pinentry-mode loopback in ~/.gnupg/gpg-agent.conf because use of gpg2 will otherwise proceed via an inaccessible graphical password prompt.

To make your key more readily identifiable as you, consider sending your key to public key servers, with a command such as:

gpg --send-keys <yourkeyid>

Check that all relevant commits are in the branch. In particular, check issues and PRs under the Milestone for the release (scipy/scipy), PRs labeled “backport-candidate”, and that the release notes are up-to-date and included in the html docs.

Then edit and tools/ to get the correct version number (set version: in the former, and ISRELEASED = True in the latter). It is also necessary to adjust the version in pyproject.toml. Commit these changes with a message like REL: set version to <version-number>. Don’t push this commit to the SciPy repo yet.

Finally tag the release locally with git tag -s <v1.x.y> (the -s ensures the tag is signed). If gpg2 is preferred, then git config --global gpg.program gpg2 may be appropriate. Continue with building release artifacts (next section). Only push the release commit to the scipy repo once you have built the sdists and docs successfully. Then continue with building wheels. Only push the release tag to the repo once all wheels have been built successfully on TravisCI and Appveyor (if it fails, you have to move the tag otherwise - which is bad practice). Finally, after pushing the tag, also push a second commit which increments the version number and appends .dev0 for version: and sets ISRELEASED to False again. This also applies with new release candidates, and for removing the rc affix when switching from release candidate to release proper.

Building release artifacts#

Here is a complete list of artifacts created for a release:

  • sdist (scipy-x.y.y.tar.gz, for both PyPI and GitHub Releases)

  • Binary wheels for Windows, Linux and macOS

  • Documentation (html)

  • A README.txt file

  • A Changelog file

An sdist is generated by running python -m build --sdist (note: we still need to move this into a CI job!), and the Changelog and README are built by running python notes (with tags, see python notes --help) in the repo root, and end up in REPO_ROOT/release/. Do this after you’ve created the signed tag locally. If this completes without issues, push the release commit (not the tag, see section above) to the scipy repo.

To build wheels, push a commit containing the text [wheel build] to the branch used for the current release. This triggers cibuildwheel builds for all needed Python versions and platforms. The appropriate version pins for NumPy and other dependencies should have been updated in pyproject.toml just after branching. If the wheel builds reveal issues that need to be fixed with backports on the maintenance branch, you may remove the local tags (for example git tag -d v1.2.0rc1) and restart with tagging above on the new candidate commit.

The cibuildwheel infrastructure runs the tests from the built wheels and if they pass, uploads the wheels to

From there you can download them for uploading to PyPI. This can be done in an automated fashion using tools/

$ python tools/ 1.5.0rc1 -w REPO_ROOT/release/installers

After this, we want to regenerate the README file, in order to have the MD5 and SHA256 checksums of the just downloaded wheels in it. Run python notes again.

Uploading release artifacts#

For a release there are currently five places on the web to upload things to:

  • PyPI (sdist, wheels)

  • GitHub Releases (sdist, release notes, Changelog)

  • (an announcement of the release)

  • (html docs)


Upload first the wheels and then the sdist:

twine upload REPO_ROOT/release/installers/*.whl
twine upload REPO_ROOT/release/installers/scipy-1.x.y.tar.gz

Github Releases:

Use GUI on scipy/scipy to create release and upload all release artifacts. At this stage, it is appropriate to push the tag and associate the new release (candidate) with this tag in the GUI. For example, git push upstream v1.2.0rc1, where upstream represents scipy/scipy. It is useful to check a previous release to determine exactly which artifacts should be included in the GUI upload process. Also, note that the release notes are not automatically populated into the release description on GitHub, and some manual reformatting to markdown can be quite helpful to match the formatting of previous releases on the site. We generally do not include Issue and Pull Request lists in these GUI descriptions.

Sources for the site are in scipy/ Update the News section in content/en/ via a PR. This is only for proper releases, not release candidates.

First build the scipy docs, by running make dist in scipy/doc/. Verify that they look OK, then upload them to the doc server with make upload USERNAME=rgommers RELEASE=0.19.0. Note that SSH access to the doc server is needed; ask @pv (server admin), @tylerjereddy or @rgommers (can upload) if you don’t have that.

The sources for the website itself are maintained in scipy/ Add the new SciPy version in the table of releases in index.rst. Push that commit, then do make upload USERNAME=yourusername. This is only for proper releases, not release candidates.

Wrapping up#

Send a message announcing the release to

For beta and rc versions, ask people to test (run the scipy tests and test against their own code) and report issues on Github or Discourse.

After the final release is done, port relevant changes to release notes, build scripts, author name mapping in tools/ and any other changes that were only made on the maintenance branch to main.

Enable interactive examples by editing the runtime configuration file, try_examples.json, in the root folder of the uploaded documentation on the release server. One must remove the regular expression pattern ".*" from the ignore_patterns list.

$ ssh
$ cd /srv/docs_scipy_org/doc/scipy-1.13.1
$ vim try_examples.json  # edit the ignore list to remove: ".*"