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The ndarray supports records intrinsically. None of the default descriptors have fields defined, but you can create new descriptors easily. The ndarray even supports nested arrays of records inside of a record. Any record that the array protocol can describe can be represented. The ndarray also supports partial field descriptors. Not every byte has to be accounted for.

This was done by adding to the established PyArray_Descr * structure:

  1. A PyObject *fields member which contains a dictionary of "field name" : (PyArray_Descr *field-type, offset, [optional field title]). If a title is given, then it is also inserted into the dictionary and used to key the same entry.
  2. A byteorder member. By default this is '=' (native), or '|' (not-applicable).
  3. An additional PyArray_ArrDescr *member of the structure which contains a simple representation of an array of another base-type. types. The PyArray_ArrayDescr structure has members PyArray_Descr *, PyObject *, for holding a reference to the base-type and the shape of the sub-array.
  4. The PyArray_Descr * as official Python object that fully describes a region of memory for the data

Data type conversions

We can support additional data-type conversions. The data-type passed in is converted to a PyArray_Descr * object.

New possibilities for the "data-type"

List [data-type 1, data-type 2, ..., data-type n]
Equivalent to {'names':['f1','f2',...,'fn'],
'formats': [data-type 1, data-type 2, ..., data-type n]}

This is a quick way to specify a record format with default field names.

Tuple (flexible type, itemsize) (fixed type, shape)
Get converted to a new PyArray_Descr * object with a flexible type. The latter structure also sets the PyArray_ArrayDescr field of the returned PyArray_Descr *.
Dictionary (keys "names", "titles", and "formats")
This will be converted to a PyArray_VOID type with corresponding fields parameter (the formats list will be converted to actual PyArray_Descr * objects).
Objects (anything with an .itemsize and .fields attribute)

If its an instance of (a sub-class of) void type, then a new PyArray_Descr* structure is created corresponding to its typeobject (and PyArray_VOID) typenumber. If the type is registered, then the registered type-number is used.

Otherwise a new PyArray_VOID PyArray_Descr* structure is created and filled ->elsize and ->fields filled in appropriately.

The itemsize attribute must return a number > 0. The fields attribute must return a dictionary with at least "names" and "formats" entries. The "formats" entry will be converted to a "proper" descr->fields entry (all generic data-types converted to PyArray_Descr * structure).

Reference counting for PyArray_Descr * objects.

Most functions that take PyArary_Descr * as arguments and return a PyObject * steal the reference unless otherwise noted in the code:

Functions that return PyArray_Descr * objects return a new reference.

Tip

There is a new function and a new method of array objects both labelled dtypescr which can be used to try out the PyArray_DescrConverter.