Geography of the Scipy world

in which we briefly describe the various components you are likely to come across when writing scientific python software in general, and NIPY code in particular.


NumPy is the basic Python array-manipulation package. It allows you to create, slice and manipulate N-D arrays at near C speed. It also has basic arithmetical and mathematical functions (such as sum, mean, and log, exp, sin, cos), matrix multiplication (, Fourier transforms (numpy.fft) and basic linear algebra numpy.linalg.


Scipy is a large umbrella project that builds on Numpy (and depends on it). It includes a variety of high level science and engineering modules together as a single package. There are extended modules for linear algebra (including wrappers to BLAS and LAPACK), optimization, integration, sparse matrices, special functions, FFTs, signal and image processing, genetic algorithms, ODE solvers, and others.


Matplotlib is a 2D plotting package that depends on NumPy. It has a simple matlab-like plotting syntax that makes it relatively easy to create good-looking plots, histograms and images with a small amount of code. As well as this simplified Matlab-like syntax, There is also a more powerful and flexible object-oriented interface.


Ipython is an interactive shell for python that has various features of the interactive shell of Matlab, Mathematica and R. It works particularly well with Matplotlib, but is also an essential tool for interactive code development and code exploration. It contains libraries for creainteracting with parallel jobs on clusters or over several CPU cores in a fairly transparent way.


Cython is a development language that allows you to write a combination of Python and C-like syntax to generate Python extensions. It is especially good for linking C libraries to Python in a readable way. It is also an excellent choice for optimization of Python code, because it allows you to drop down to C or C-like code at your bottlenecks without losing much of the readability of Python.


Mayavi is a high-level python interface to the VTK plotting libraries.