# Introduction to Scientific Python programming - Adapted to TKT4140 Numerical Methods with Computer Laboratory **Hans Petter Langtangen** (email: [email protected]`), Center for Biomedical Computing, Simula Research Laboratory and Department of Informatics, University of Oslo **Leif Rune Hellevik** (email: [email protected]`), Biomechanichs Group, Department of Structural Engineering NTNU and Center for Biomedical Computing, Simula Research Laboratory Date: **Dec 11, 2015** ## This is a very quick intro to Python programming * variables for numbers, lists, and arrays * while loops and for loops * functions * if tests * plotting * files * classes Method: show program code through math examples # Variables, loops, lists, and arrays

Do you have access to Python?

Many methods:

See How to access Python for doing scientific computing for more details!

Mathematical example

Most examples will involve this formula:

$$ \begin{equation} \label{basics:seq} \tag{1} s = v_0t + \frac{1}{2}at^2 \end{equation} $$

We may view $s$ as a function of $t$: $s(t)$, and also include the parameters in the notation: $s(t;v_0,a)$.

A program for evaluating a formula

Task.

Compute $s$ for $t=0.5$, $v_0=2$, and $a=0.2$.

Python code.

In [1]:
t = 0.5
v0 = 2
a = 0.2
s = v0*t + 0.5*a*t**2
print s

Execution.

    Terminal> python distance.py
    1.025

Assignment statements assign a name to an object

In [2]:
t = 0.5                   # real number makes float object
v0 = 2                    # integer makes int object
a = 0.2                   # float object
s = v0*t + 0.5*a*t**2     # float object

Rule:

  • evaluate right-hand side; it results in an object

  • left-hand side is a name for that object

Formatted output with text and numbers

  • Task: write out text with a number (3 decimals): s=1.025

  • Method: printf syntax

In [3]:
print 's=%g' % s       # g: compact notation
print 's=%.2f' % s     # f: decimal notation, .2f: 2 decimals

Modern alternative: format string syntax

In [4]:
print 's={s:.2f}'.format(s=s)

Programming with a while loop

  • Task: write out a table of $t$ and $s(t)$ values (two columns), for $t\in [0,2]$ in steps of 0.1

  • Method: while loop

In [5]:
v0 = 2
a = 0.2
dt = 0.1  # Increment
t = 0     # Start value
while t <= 2:
    s = v0*t + 0.5*a*t**2
    print t, s
    t = t + dt

Output of the previous program

    Terminal> python while.py
    0 0.0
    0.1 0.201
    0.2 0.404
    0.3 0.609
    0.4 0.816
    0.5 1.025
    0.6 1.236
    0.7 1.449
    0.8 1.664
    0.9 1.881
    1.0 2.1
    1.1 2.321
    1.2 2.544
    1.3 2.769
    1.4 2.996
    1.5 3.225
    1.6 3.456
    1.7 3.689
    1.8 3.924
    1.9 4.161

Structure of a while loop

In [6]:
while condition:
    <intented statement>
    <intented statement>
    <intented statement>

Note:

  • the colon in the first line

  • all statements in the loop must be indented (no braces as in C, C++, Java, ...)

  • condition is a boolean expression (e.g., t <= 2)

Let's take a closer look at the output of our program

    Terminal> python while.py
    0 0.0
    0.1 0.201
    0.2 0.404
    ...
    1.8 3.924
    1.9 4.161

The last line contains 1.9, but the while loop should run also when $t=2$ since the test is t <= 2. Why is this test False?

Let's examine the program in the Python Online Tutor

Python Online Tutor: step through the program and examine variables

In [7]:
a = 0
da = 0.4
while a <= 1.2:
    print a
    a = a + da

Ooops, why is a <= 1.2 when a is 1.2? Round-off errors!

In [8]:
a = 0
da = 0.4
while a <= 1.2:
    print a
    a = a + da
    # Inspect all decimals in da and a
    print 'da=%.16E\na=%.16E' % (da, a)
    print 'a <= 1.2: %g' %  (a <= 1.2)

Box.

Small round-off error in da makes a = 1.2000000000000002

Rule: never a == b for real a and b! Always use a tolerance!

In [9]:
a = 1.2
b = 0.4 + 0.4 + 0.4
boolean_condition1 = a == b              # may be False

# This is the way to do it
tol = 1E-14
boolean_condition2 = abs(a - b) < tol    # True

A list collects several objects in a given sequence

A list of numbers:

In [10]:
L = [-1, 1, 8.0]

A list can contain any type of objects, e.g.,

In [11]:
L = ['mydata.txt', 3.14, 10]   # string, float, int

Some basic list operations:

In [12]:
L = ['mydata.txt', 3.14, 10]
print L[0]    # print first element (index 0)
In [13]:
print L[1]    # print second element (index 1)
In [14]:
del L[0]      # delete the first element
print L
In [15]:
print len(L)  # length of L
In [16]:
L.append(-1)  # add -1 at the end of the list
print L

Store our table in two lists, one for each column

In [17]:
v0 = 2
a = 0.2
dt = 0.1  # Increment
t = 0
t_values = []
s_values = []
while t <= 2:
    s = v0*t + 0.5*a*t**2
    t_values.append(t)
    s_values.append(s)
    t = t + dt
print s_values  # Just take a look at a created list

# Print a nicely formatted table
i = 0
while i <= len(t_values)-1:
    print '%.2f  %.4f' % (t_values[i], s_values[i])
    i += 1   # Same as i = i + 1

For loops

A for loop is used for visiting elements in a list, one by one:

In [18]:
L = [1, 4, 8, 9]
for e in L:
    print e

Demo in the Python Online Tutor:

In [19]:
list1 = [0, 0.1, 0.2]
list2 = []
for element in list1:
    p = element + 2
    list2.append(p)
print list2

Traditional for loop: integer counter over list/array indices

In [20]:
somelist = ['file1.dat', 22, -1.5]

for i in range(len(somelist)):
    # access list element through index
    print somelist[i]

Note:

  • range returns a list of integers

  • range(a, b, s) returns the integers a, a+s, a+2*s, ... up to but not including (!!) b

  • range(b) implies a=0 and s=1

  • range(len(somelist)) returns [0, 1, 2]

Let's replace our while loop by a for loop

In [21]:
v0 = 2
a = 0.2
dt = 0.1  # Increment
t_values = []
s_values = []
n = int(round(2/dt)) + 1  # No of t values
for i in range(n):
    t = i*dt
    s = v0*t + 0.5*a*t**2
    t_values.append(t)
    s_values.append(s)
print s_values  # Just take a look at a created list

# Make nicely formatted table
for t, s in zip(t_values, s_values):
    print '%.2f  %.4f' % (t, s)

# Alternative implementation
for i in range(len(t_values)):
    print '%.2f  %.4f' % (t_values[i], s_values[i])

Traversal of multiple lists at the same time with zip

In [22]:
for e1, e2, e3, ... in zip(list1, list2, list3, ...):

Alternative: loop over a common index for the lists

In [23]:
for i in range(len(list1)):
    e1 = list1[i]
    e2 = list2[i]
    e3 = list3[i]
    ...

Arrays are computationally efficient lists of numbers

  • Lists collect a set of objects in a single variable

  • Lists are very flexible (can grow, can contain "anything")

  • Array: computationally efficient and convenient list

  • Arrays must have fixed length and can only contain numbers of the same type (integers, real numbers, complex numbers)

  • Arrays require the numpy module

Examples on using arrays

In [24]:
import numpy
L = [1, 4, 10.0]    # List of numbers
a = numpy.array(L)  # Convert to array
print a
In [25]:
print a[1]          # Access element through indexing
In [26]:
print a[0:2]        # Extract slice (index 2 not included!)
In [27]:
print a.dtype       # Data type of an element
In [28]:
b = 2*a + 1         # Can do arithmetics on arrays
print b

numpy functions creates entire arrays at once

Apply $\ln$ to all elements in array a:

In [29]:
c = numpy.log(a)
print c

Create $n+1$ uniformly distributed coordinates in $[a,b]$:

In [30]:
t = numpy.linspace(a, b, n+1)

Create array of length $n$ filled with zeros:

In [31]:
t = numpy.zeros(n)
s = numpy.zeros_like(t)  # zeros with t's size and data type

Let's use arrays in our previous program

In [32]:
import numpy
v0 = 2
a = 0.2
dt = 0.1  # Increment
n = int(round(2/dt)) + 1  # No of t values

t_values = numpy.linspace(0, 2, n+1)
s_values = v0*t + 0.5*a*t**2

# Make nicely formatted table
for t, s in zip(t_values, s_values):
    print '%.2f  %.4f' % (t, s)

Note: no explicit loop for computing s_values!

Standard mathematical functions are found in the math module

In [33]:
import math
print math.sin(math.pi)

Get rid of the math prefix:

In [34]:
from math import sin, pi
print sin(pi)

# Or import everything from math
from math import *
print sin(pi), log(e), tanh(0.5)

Use the numpy module for standard mathematical functions applied to arrays

Matlab users can do

In [35]:
from numpy import *
x = linspace(0, 1, 101)
y = exp(-x)*sin(pi*x)

The Python community likes

In [36]:
import numpy as np
x = np.linspace(0, 1, 101)
y = np.exp(-x)*np.sin(np.pi*x)

Our convention: use np prefix, but not in formulas involving math functions

In [37]:
import numpy as np
x = np.linspace(0, 1, 101)

from numpy import sin, exp, pi
y = exp(-x)*sin(pi*x)

Array assignment gives view (no copy!) of array data

Consider array assignment b=a:

In [38]:
a = np.linspace(1, 5, 5)
b = a

Here, b is a just view or a pointer to the data of a - no copying of data!

See the following example how changes in b inflict changes in a

In [39]:
>>> a
array([ 1.,  2.,  3.,  4.,  5.])
>>> b[0] = 5                          # changes a[0] to 5
>>> a
array([ 5.,  2.,  3.,  4.,  5.])
>>> a[1] = 9                          # changes b[1] to 9
>>> b
array([ 5.,  9.,  3.,  4.,  5.])

Copying array data requires special action via the copy method

In [40]:
>>> c = a.copy()       # copy all elements to new array c
>>> c[0] = 6           # a is not changed
>>> a
array([ 1.,  2.,  3.,  4.,  5.])
>>> c
array([ 6.,  2.,  3.,  4.,  5.])
>>> b
array([ 5.,  2.,  3.,  4.,  5.])

Note: b has still the values from the previous example

Construction of tridiagonal and sparse matrices

  • SciPy offers a sparse matrix package scipy.sparse

  • The spdiags function may be used to construct a sparse matrix from diagonals

  • Note that all the diagonals must have the same length as the dimension of their sparse matrix - consequently some elements of the diagonals are not used

  • The first $k$ elements are not used of the $k$ super-diagonal

  • The last $k$ elements are not used of the $-k$ sub-diagonal

Example on constructing a tridiagonal matrix using spdiags

In [41]:
import numpy as np
N = 6
diagonals = np.zeros((3, N))   # 3 diagonals
In [42]:
import scipy.sparse
A = scipy.sparse.spdiags(diagonals, [-1,0,1], N, N, format='csc')
A.toarray()    # look at corresponding dense matrix

Example on constructing a tridiagonal matrix using diags

An alternative function that may be used to construct sparse matrices is the diags function. It differs from spdiags in the way it handles of diagonals.

  • All diagonals need to be given with their correct lengths

  • It also supports scalar broadcasting

Here is how to construct the same matrix as in the previous example:

In [43]:
diagonals = [-np.linspace(1, N, N)[0:-1], -2*np.ones(N), np.linspace(1, N, N)[1:]]   # 3 diagonals
A = scipy.sparse.diags(diagonals, [-1,0,1], format='csc')
A.toarray()    # look at corresponding dense matrix

Here's an example using scalar broadcasting (need to specify shape):

In [44]:
B = scipy.sparse.diags([1, 2, 3], [-2, 0, 1], shape=(6, 6), format='csc')
B.toarray()    # look at corresponding dense matrix

Example on solving a tridiagonal system

We can solve $Ax=b$ with tridiagonal matrix $A$: choose some $x$, compute $b=Ax$ (sparse/tridiagonal matrix product!), solve $Ax=b$, and check that $x$ is the desired solution:

In [45]:
x = np.linspace(-1, 1, N)  # choose solution
b = A.dot(x)               # sparse matrix vector product
import scipy.sparse.linalg
x = scipy.sparse.linalg.spsolve(A, b)
print x

Check against dense matrix computations:

In [46]:
A_d = A.toarray()            # corresponding dense matrix
b = np.dot(A_d, x)           # standard matrix vector product
x = np.linalg.solve(A_d, b)  # standard Ax=b algorithm
print x

Plotting

Plotting is done with matplotlib:

In [47]:
%matplotlib inline

import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

v0 = 0.2
a = 2
n = 21  # No of t values for plotting

t = np.linspace(0, 2, n+1)
s = v0*t + 0.5*a*t**2

plt.plot(t, s)
plt.savefig('myplot.png')
plt.show()

Plotting of multiple curves

In [48]:
import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

v0 = 0.2
n = 21  # No of t values for plotting

t = np.linspace(0, 2, n+1)
a = 2
s0 = v0*t + 0.5*a*t**2
a = 3
s1 = v0*t + 0.5*a*t**2

plt.plot(t, s0, 'r-',  # Plot s0 curve with red line
         t, s1, 'bo')  # Plot s1 curve with blue circles
plt.xlabel('t')
plt.ylabel('s')
plt.title('Distance plot')
plt.legend(['$s(t; v_0=2, a=0.2)$', '$s(t; v_0=2, a=0.8)$'],
           loc='upper left')
plt.savefig('myplot.png')
plt.show()

Functions and branching

Functions

  • $s(t)=v_0t + \frac{1}{2}at^2$ is a mathematical function

  • Can implement $s(t)$ as a Python function s(t)

In [49]:
def s(t):
    return v0*t + 0.5*a*t**2

v0 = 0.2
a = 4
value = s(3)   # Call the function

Note:

  • functions start with the keyword def

  • statements belonging to the function must be indented

  • function input is represented by arguments (separated by comma if more than one)

  • function output is returned to the calling code

  • v0 and a are global variables, which must be initialized before s(t) is called

Functions can have multiple arguments

v0 and a as function arguments instead of global variables:

In [50]:
def s(t, v0, a):
    return v0*t + 0.5*a*t**2

value = s(3, 0.2, 4)   # Call the function

# More readable call
value = s(t=3, v0=0.2, a=4)

Keyword arguments are arguments with default values

In [51]:
def s(t, v0=1, a=1):
    return v0*t + 0.5*a*t**2

value = s(3, 0.2, 4)         # specify new v0 and a
value = s(3)                 # rely on v0=1 and a=1
value = s(3, a=2)            # rely on v0=1
value = s(3, v0=2)           # rely on a=1
value = s(t=3, v0=2, a=2)    # specify everything
value = s(a=2, t=3, v0=2)    # any sequence allowed
  • Arguments without the argument name are called positional arguments

    • Positional arguments must always be listed before the keyword arguments in the function and in any call

    • The sequence of the keyword arguments can be arbitrary

Vectorization speeds up the code

Scalar code (work with one number at a time):

In [52]:
def s(t, v0, a):
    return v0*t + 0.5*a*t**2

for i in range(len(t)):
    s_values[i] = s(t_values[i], v0, a)

Vectorized code: apply s to the entire array

In [53]:
s_values = s(t_values, v0, a)

How can this work?

  • Expression: v0t + 0.5a*t**2 with array t

  • r1 = v0*t (scalar times array)

  • r2 = t**2 (square each element)

  • r3 = 0.5*a*r2 (scalar times array)

  • r1 + r3 (add each element)

Python functions written for scalars normally work for arrays too!

True if computations involve arithmetic operations and math functions:

In [54]:
from math import exp, sin

def f(x):
    return 2*x + x**2*exp(-x)*sin(x)

v = f(4)  # f(x) works with scalar x

# Redefine exp and sin with their vectorized versions
from numpy import exp, sin, linspace
x = linspace(0, 4, 100001)
v = f(x)  # f(x) works with array x

Python functions can return multiple values

Return $s(t)=v_0t+\frac{1}{2}at^2$ and $s'(t)=v_0 + at$:

In [55]:
def movement(t, v0, a):
    s = v0*t + 0.5*a*t**2
    v = v0 + a*t
    return s, v

s_value, v_value = movement(t=0.2, v0=2, a=4)

return s, v means that we return a tuple ($\approx$ list):

In [56]:
def f(x):
    return x+1, x+2, x+3
In [57]:
r = f(3)     # Store all three return values in one object r
print r
In [58]:
type(r)      # What type of object is r?
In [59]:
print r[1]

Tuples are constant lists (cannot be changed)

A more general mathematical formula (part I)

Equations from basic kinematics:

$$ \begin{align*} v = \frac{ds}{dt},\quad s(0)=s_0\\ a = \frac{dv}{dt},\quad v(0)=v_0 \end{align*} $$

Integrate to find $v(t)$:

$$ \int_0^t a(t)dt = \int_0^t \frac{dv}{dt} dt $$

which gives

$$ v(t) = v_0 + \int_0^t a(t)dt $$

A more general mathematical formula (part II)

Integrate again over $[0,t]$ to find $s(t)$:

$$ s(t) = s_0 + v_0t + \int_0^t\left( \int_0^t a(t)dt \right) dt $$

Example: $a(t)=a_0$ for $t\in[0,t_1]$, then $a(t)=0$ for $t>t_1$:

$$ s(t) = \left\lbrace\begin{array}{ll} s_0 + v_0 t + \frac{1}{2}a_0 t^2,& t\leq t_1\\ s_0 + v_0t_1 + \frac{1}{2}a_0 t_1^2 + a_0t_1(t-t_1),& t> t_1 \end{array}\right. $$

Need if test to implement this!

Basic if-else tests

An if test has the structure

In [60]:
if condition:
    <statements when condition is True>
else:
    <statements when condition is False>

Here,

  • condition is a boolean expression with value True or False.
In [61]:
if t <= t1:
    s = v0*t + 0.5*a0*t**2
else:
    s = v0*t + 0.5*a0*t1**2 + a0*t1*(t-t1)

Multi-branch if tests

In [62]:
if condition1:
    <statements when condition1 is True>
elif condition2:
    <statements when condition1 is False and condition2 is True>
elif condition3:
    <statements when condition1 and conditon 2 are False
     and condition3 is True>
else:
    <statements when condition1/2/3 all are False>

Just if, no else:

In [63]:
if condition:
    <statements when condition is True>

Implementation of a piecewisely defined function with if

A Python function implementing the mathematical function

$$ s(t) = \left\lbrace\begin{array}{ll} s_0 + v_0 t + \frac{1}{2}a_0 t^2,& t\leq t_1\\ s_0 + v_0t_1 + \frac{1}{2}a_0 t_1^2 + a_0t_1(t-t_1),& t> t_1 \end{array}\right. $$

reads

In [64]:
def s_func(t, v0, a0, t1):
    if t <= t1:
        s = v0*t + 0.5*a0*t**2
    else:
        s = v0*t + 0.5*a0*t1**2 + a0*t1*(t-t1)
    return s

Python functions containing if will not accept array arguments

In [65]:
def f(x): return x if x < 1 else 2*x
In [66]:
import numpy as np
x = np.linspace(0, 2, 5)
f(x)

Problem: x < 1 evaluates to a boolean array, not just a boolean

Remedy 1: Call the function with scalar arguments

In [67]:
n = 201  # No of t values for plotting
t1 = 1.5

t = np.linspace(0, 2, n+1)
s = np.zeros(n+1)
for i in range(len(t)):
    s[i] = s_func(t=t[i], v0=0.2, a0=20, t1=t1)

Can now easily plot:

In [68]:
plt.plot(t, s, 'b-')
plt.plot([t1, t1], [0, s_func(t=t1, v0=0.2, a0=20, t1=t1)], 'r--')
plt.xlabel('t')
plt.ylabel('s')
plt.savefig('myplot.png')
plt.show()

Remedy 2: Vectorize the if test with where

Functions with if tests require a complete rewrite to work with arrays.

In [69]:
s = np.where(condition, s1, s2)

Explanation:

  • condition: array of boolean values

  • s[i] = s1[i] if condition[i] is True

  • s[i] = s2[i] if condition[i] is False

Our example then becomes

In [70]:
s = np.where(t <= t1,
             v0*t + 0.5*a0*t**2,
             v0*t + 0.5*a0*t1**2 + a0*t1*(t-t1))

Note that t <= t1 with array t and scalar t1 results in a boolean array b where b[i] = t[i] <= t1.

Remedy 3: Vectorize the if test with array indexing

  • Let b be a boolean array (e.g., b = t <= t1)

  • s[b] selects all elements s[i] where b[i] is True

  • Can assign some array expression expr of length len(s[b]) to s[b]: s[b] = (expr)[b]

Our example can utilize this technique with b as t <= t1 and t > t1:

In [71]:
s = np.zeros_like(t)  # Make s as zeros, same size & type as t
s[t <= t1] = (v0*t + 0.5*a0*t**2)[t <= t1]
s[t > t1]  = (v0*t + 0.5*a0*t1**2 + a0*t1*(t-t1))[t > t1]

Files

File reading

Put input data in a text file:

    v0 = 2
    a = 0.2
    dt = 0.1
    interval = [0, 2]

Box.

How can we read this file into variables v0, a, dt, and interval?

Code for reading files with lines variable = value

In [72]:
infile = open('.input.dat', 'r')
for line in infile:
    # Typical line: variable = value
    variable, value = line.split('=')
    variable = variable.strip()  # remove leading/traling blanks
    if variable == 'v0':
        v0 = float(value)
    elif variable == 'a':
        a = float(value)
    elif variable == 'dt':
        dt = float(value)
    elif variable == 'interval':
        interval = eval(value)
infile.close()

Splitting lines into words is a frequent operation

In [73]:
line = 'v0 = 5.3'
variable, value = line.split('=')
variable
In [74]:
value
In [75]:
variable.strip()  # strip away blanks

Note: must convert value to float before we can compute with the value!

The magic eval function

eval(s) executes a string s as a Python expression and creates the corresponding Python object

In [76]:
obj1 = eval('1+2')   # Same as obj1 = 1+2
obj1, type(obj1)
In [77]:
obj2 = eval('[-1, 8, 10, 11]')
obj2, type(obj2)
In [78]:
from math import sin, pi
x = 1
obj3 = eval('sin(pi*x)')
obj3, type(obj3)

Why is this so great? We can read formulas, lists, expressions as text from file and with eval turn them into live Python objects!

Implementing a calculator in Python

Demo:

    Terminal> python calc.py "1 + 0.5*2"
    2.0
    Terminal> python calc.py "sin(pi*2.5) + exp(-4)"
    1.0183156388887342

Just 5 lines of code:

In [79]:
import sys
command_line_expression = sys.argv[1]
from math import *   # Define sin, cos, exp, pi, etc.
result = eval(command_line_expression)
print result

Modern Python often applies the with statement for file handling

In [80]:
with open('.input.dat', 'r') as infile:
    for line in infile:
        ...

No need to close the file when using with

File writing

  • We have $t$ and $s(t)$ values in two lists, t_values and s_values

  • Task: write these lists as a nicely formatted table in a file

Code:

In [81]:
outfile = open('table1.dat', 'w')
outfile.write('# t    s(t)\n')  # write table header
for t, s in zip(t_values, s_values):
    outfile.write('%.2f  %.4f\n' % (t, s))

Simplified writing of tabular data to file via numpy.savetxt

In [82]:
import numpy as np
# Make two-dimensional array of [t, s(t)] values in each row
data = np.array([t_values, s_values]).transpose()

# Write data array to file in table format
np.savetxt('table2.dat', data, fmt=['%.2f', '%.4f'],
           header='t   s(t)', comments='# ')

table2.dat:

    # t   s(t)
    0.00 0.0000
    0.10 0.2010
    0.20 0.4040
    0.30 0.6090
    0.40 0.8160
    0.50 1.0250
    0.60 1.2360
    ...
    1.90 4.1610
    2.00 4.4000

Simplified reading of tabular data from file via numpy.loadtxt

In [83]:
data = np.loadtxt('table2.dat', comments='#')

Note:

  • Lines beginning with the comment character # are skipped in the reading

  • data is a two-dimensional array: data[i,0] holds the $t$ value and data[i,1] the $s(t)$ value in the i-th row

Classes

  • All objects in Python are made from a class

  • You don't need to know about classes to use Python

  • But class programming is powerful

  • Class = functions + variables packed together

  • A class is a logical unit in a program

  • A large program as a combination of appropriate units

A very simple class

  • One variable: a

  • One function: dump for printing a

In [84]:
class Trivial:
    def __init__(self, a):
        self.a = a

    def dump(self):
        print self.a

Class terminology: Functions are called methods and variables are called attributes.

How can we use this class?

First, make an instance (object) of the class:

In [85]:
t = Trivial(a=4)
t.dump()

Note:

  • The syntax Trivial(a=4) actually means Trivial.__init__(t, 4)

  • self is an argument in __init__ and dump, but not used in the calls

  • __init__ is called constructor and is used to construct an object (instance) if the class

  • t.dump() actually means Trivial.dump(t) (self is t)

The self argument is a difficult thing for newcomers...

It takes time and experience to understand the self argument in class methods!

  1. self must always be the first argument

  2. self is never used in calls

  3. self is used to access attributes and methods inside methods

We refer to a more comprehensive text on classes for better explanation of self.

self is confusing in the beginning, but later it greatly helps the understanding of how classes work!

A class for representing a mathematical function

Function with one independent variable $t$ and two parameters $v_0$ and $a$:

$$ s(t; v_0, a) = v_0t + \frac{1}{2}at^2 $$

Class representation of this function:

  • v0 and a are variables (data)

  • A method to evaluate $s(t)$, but just as a function of t

Usage:

In [86]:
s = Distance(v0=2, a=0.5)  # create instance
v = s(t=0.2)               # compute formula

The class code

In [87]:
class Distance:
    def __init__(self, v0, a):
        self.v0 = v0
        self.a = a

    def __call__(self, t):
        v0, a = self.v0, self.a  # make local variables
        return v0*t + 0.5*a*t**2

s = Distance(v0=2, a=0.5)  # create instance
v = s(t=0.2)               # actually s.__call__(t=0.2)

Class implementation of $f(x,y,z; p_1,p_2,\ldots,p_n)$

  • The $n$ parameters $p_1,p_2,\ldots,p_n$ are attributes

  • __call__(self, x, y, z) is used to compute $f(x, y, z)$

In [88]:
class F:
    def __init__(self, p1, p2, ...):
        self.p1 = p1
        self.p2 = p2
        ...

    def __call__(self, x, y, z):
        # return formula involving x, y, z and self.p1, self.p2 ...

f = F(p1=..., p2=..., ...)   # create instance with parameters
print f(1, 4, -1)            # evaluate f(x,y,z) function