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Python Open Source United States

Finance, Scientific Users Get ActivePython Updates 131

jcasman sends along this clip from PCWorld: "ActiveState has added three open source mathematics libraries to its ActivePython Python distribution that might interest financial and scientific computing markets, the company announced Thursday. The packages are being added, in part, to anticipate the demand that may arise from new proposed rules for the US financial community brought about by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. ... In April, the government agency posted a set of proposed rules for handling asset-backed securities that called for financial firms to disclose, along with their prospectus filings, the source code of the programs that generated the filings, as rendered in Python. The government agency will be accepting input about the proposed rule until August 2. The three libraries that are being added to the ActivePython package are NumPy, SciPy, and matplotlib."
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Finance, Scientific Users Get ActivePython Updates

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  • IOW fudging the numbers.. only faster and easier

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      only faster and easier

      Since when has python ever been faster at something? *ducks*

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Migala77 ( 1179151 )
      Actually the proposal is meant to make this harder. I haven't read the full proposal (667 pages!), but it looks like the Python program requested is to help investers do their own analysis of the risks/performance/... of asset backed securities.
      From [] (p 205-206)

      This proposed requirement is designed to make it easier for an investor to conduct a thorough investment analysis of the ABS offering at the time of its initial investment decision. In addition, an investor may monitor ongoing performance of purchased ABS by updating its investment analysis from time to time to reflect updated asset performance.338 In this way, market participants would be able to conduct their own evaluations of ABS and may be less dependent on the analysis of third parties such as credit rating agencies.
      The waterfall is a critical component of an ABS. Currently investors receive only a textual description of this information in the prospectus, which may make it difficult for them to perform a rigorous quantitative analysis of the ABS.339

      • Now people will be getting paid to obfuscate Python code.
        • by drewhk ( 1744562 )

          It does not really matter. You can still execute it and do a lot of useful analysis. Simply sweeping over the input space and plotting the output will help. If the output is really crazy (chaotic, whatever), then you can conclude that the asset is too complex and risky to buy.

    • What the hell is ActivePython and why the hell would anyone use it?

      I've been using Python, numpy, scipy and matplotlib, and I know of absolutely no issue on any platform. How does this "news" affect me (or anyone)?

      • by flink ( 18449 )

        What the hell is ActivePython and why the hell would anyone use it?

        Although now available for multiple platforms, originally ActivePerl/Python/Tcl's main attraction is that they were a commercial port of popular UNIX scripting languages to Windows with the added feature of being able to interact with ActiveX components. This made them attractive alternatives to VBScript.

      • ActivePython is just another CPython Distribution. Previously, the SciPy and NumPy libraries were modules were only found 'pre-compiled' in the Enthough Python Distribution. Now when I download ActivePython I have two fewer modules to hunt down. In the windows world, it is a pain to try and build scipy and numpy. It's not enough to have the correct version of C and C++, you need a Fortran compiler as well.

      • here []


        ActiveState has left a bad taste in my mouth in the past. My quick research just now may have dug up some reasons to re-evaluate them.

  • Great tools (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AstroMatt ( 1594081 )
    These are great and free tools for making publication-quality plots as well as the analysis of the data.
  • by SeriouslyNoClue ( 1842116 ) on Friday June 25, 2010 @11:49AM (#32691522)
    Okay so I'm the lead Microsoft certified developer at a Fortune 500 company. I have to get this crappy software integrated with our project that is running as a Win32 application by the end of the month and so I downloaded the packages and dragged and dropped them into Microsoft Visual Studio. Then I created a VB file that basically calls SciPy.getSECReport(somedata) and nothing happens. I get some "Error Method or data member not found" even though the stuff I downloaded was unzipped and dragged right into the rest of my libraries in my WIN32 directory.

    Oh and I also tried double clicking the packages and nothing happens ... as well as dragging and dropping the excel files onto the packages (I'm not an idiot, I've tried everything). I even went to SourceForge to find documentation on this crap and there is nothing. Nothing! Can someone help me figure this crap out? It's impossible to use, the open source nuts have made it so it isn't streamlined and integrated with Windows. I mean, I'm a pretty talented hacker (MSCD and everything) and this just goes to show how crappy open source can be.

    Will someone please rewrite this in Visual Basic so I can do my job?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      You need to either write COM component in Python and interface with Visual Basic that way, or use IronPython and call it from .Net like this [].

    • The shitty end of the stick finally comes around and slaps em in the face. Bought into Microsoft? Sure it was painless. At first. It takes a good while to set in, but like a burn you feel the fucker nice and good.

      • I must have worked for five companies that had legacy apps running on Windows servers. Lots of companies seem to start that way (Microsoft everywhere) and within a few years they realize their mistake and switch to Solaris or Linux. Trouble is, they never bother to port their Windows-based apps to *nix and are stuck supporting gimpy Windows 2000 servers forever. Do business schools cover this scenario at all? It's so common it could be called universal.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      >> I'm a pretty talented hacker (MSCD and everything) and this just goes to show how crappy open source can be.
      You need to replace Visual with Vim, Microsoft with a Unix flavour, drag-and-drop with shell, unzipped with untarred or unbzipped2, WIN32 with BIN, Basic with Python or C before you will be recognised here as a hacker :D

    • Just goes to show the value of a MSCD now doesn't it. You may wish to start with a little trip through the Win32 API.

    • I think you meant to say, "Can someone at Microsoft please re-write VBasic to work with these modules?" Yeah, it can never be Microsoft's fault.
    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      The funny thing is, anyone who can type "easy_install" on the command line doesn't really need Activestate's distribution and has been happily using Numpy, Scipy and Matlotlib for years.

      In some ways, ActivePython is like the VB of the Python world.

  • While we're on the topic, here's something that confused me about the SEC / Python idea.

    Python is Turing complete, which means some Python programs may never terminate*. Has the SEC taken this into consideration in its plans to use them?

    Or is the SEC planning to impose limitations such as, "These Python programs must complete within 1 hour when run on an Intel Pentiun IV 2.8 GHz with 4 GB RAM and Windows XP SP 3"?

    (* Of course, real computers have finite memories, so it's actually theoretically possible to

    • by maxume ( 22995 )

      It seems fairly likely that the implementation of the regulation would require the models to be useful.

      But maybe not.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Oops - that's embarassing. I just realized that the Python program must be those used to produce the actual filings. So the programs' fitness to purpose must have been already established. Presumably they don't loop forever, or at least only do so after producing the filings.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by X0563511 ( 793323 )

        Or the loop was part of the design.

        I leave my machine on overnight and lots of things are looping "endlessly" - and that's not a problem.

    • While we're on the topic, here's something that confused me about the SEC / Python idea.

      Python is Turing complete, which means some Python programs may never terminate*. Has the SEC taken this into consideration in its plans to use them?

      Or is the SEC planning to impose limitations such as, "These Python programs must complete within 1 hour when run on an Intel Pentiun IV 2.8 GHz with 4 GB RAM and Windows XP SP 3"?

      (* Of course, real computers have finite memories, so it's actually theoretically possible to detect looping on such a computer. But at this point we get back to specifying a particular memory size I think, which kind of goes to my question about the SEC specifying the particular hardware on which the program must run.)

      Gag, I hate Python; it has to be the most annoying language to code in since COBOL. White-space blocked languages needed to die with the Hollerith card.

      • by Jonner ( 189691 )

        If you think Python's syntax has anything to do with COBOL or Hollerith cards, I doubt you've ever even looked at any Python code.

  • Good stuff (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stokessd ( 89903 ) on Friday June 25, 2010 @12:15PM (#32691850) Homepage

    Those packages are fantastic and really 90% of what I use in python are in those packages. I have been using enthought edition python rather than active-state (many reasons), and this tips the scales a bit more toward recommending active-state to others.

    FYI: Matplotlib makes 2D and 3D presentation quality plots of data (even an absurd quantity of data). Numpy and scipy provide scientific and matrix functions that pretty much cut matlab off at the knees unless you are a simulink user. Matlab is many thousands of dollars, python is free, and they are both remarkable similar, except matlab chokes on large data sets where python doesn't.


    • by iguana ( 8083 ) *

      What he said! I love numpy+scipy+matplotlib. Makes my life soooo much easier.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I would be very interested in what matlab is choking on that Python wouldn't. The only data I've had matlab give me errors on is stuff that starts breaking 32-bit memory addressing. (In 32-bit Windows).

      I'm a hardcore matlab user and while there is no chance in hell my company would ever give it up for python, I'd consider it for some of my personal projects.

      And as limited as it is, there is one feature of the Matlab Editor that I don't think my lazy self could live without. Ctrl-A Ctrl-I, select all and aut

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by sourcerror ( 1718066 )

        Auto-indenting for Python? Are you serious?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Yes, I am. I know absolutely nothing about Python. I earn my keep with Matlab. I know C (which is quite useful for CANape scripts) and use PHP in my free time.

          I just asked a simple question. Rather than answering, you respond with a jackass comment of "ha, are you serious?". Which now just makes me want to disregard Python and all this crap and I'll just stick with my Matlab and short PHP script for doing repetitive stuff.

          It's a little less forward than RTFM but just as condescending. And you wonder why com

          • well, you could use Eclipse or Emacs or any other editor.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Follis ( 702842 )
            2 things 1) If random internet poster makes you not want to evaluate a tech you seriously need to grow a thicker skin 2) Auto indenting in python after the code is written is not particularly safe. In python Indentation serves the same function as { } in PHP or c, etc. That being said, Emacs works reasonably well. 3) You would have found this out if you had googled python indentation:)
          • Re:Good stuff (Score:5, Informative)

            by mrcaseyj ( 902945 ) on Friday June 25, 2010 @04:35PM (#32695986)

            Grandparent thought you were joking because one of the special features of python is that it doesn't use brackets for statement grouping and instead uses indenting. Thus all working python programs must be properly indented. I guess you could still complain if someone doesn't use the number of indent spaces you like for each block, but I assume your big issue is the confusion of various indenting styles rather than just the size of the indent.

      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        "Is there any python IDE with this built in... anything that mimics the 'desktop' of Matlab?"

        TextMate. If you're not on a Mac you have a choice of all the other Python editors, one of which must surely have those basic functions.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by mikiN ( 75494 )

        Is there any python IDE with this built in... anything that mimics the 'desktop' of Matlab?

        Why not have a look at Geany []? It's small, free and sweet (i.e. very usable), and it assists with editing code in a lot of programming languages.
        By the way, the key sequence you gave as example nicely increases indent one level in Geany. For Python, Geany will auto-indent some obvious things: indent after a line ending with ':', dedent after 'return', etc.

  • Slash should get paid for this. These packages have always been available. Where is the news?
  • Not free, however (Score:5, Informative)

    by osvenskan ( 1446645 ) on Friday June 25, 2010 @12:40PM (#32692288)

    TFA and TFS fail to mention that SciPy, Numpy and Matplotlib have been added only to the Business, Enterprise, and OEM Editions of ActivePython. The Community Edition (the only one that's free) doesn't contain these libraries. []

    • wow. these people pay to install a python distribution? check the umpteenth proof that the economy went bad because stupid people are in charge.
      seriously now... I use all these, and they're free, and in ubuntu I just had to click install to get them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      And what, exactly, prevents you from installing SciPy, Numpy, and Matplotlib into an already existing ActivePython community edition installation?

      Hint: Nothing. You download the libraries and install with the canonical ' install'

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      All the linux distributions I have used so far (SuSE, Mandriva, PCLInuxos, Ubuntu), all, have Numpy in their ready made packages. All you have to do is click to install it. To install SciPy, you download it, and run as installer. I don't know about matplotlib, but I suspect it as easy as SciPy.
      Thus, they are free.
      But if you want to fund python related staff, then fine.
  • Does this mean one less reason (scientific field) to use commercial Matlab and prefer free Sage/ActionPython/NumPy/SciPy/matplotlib?

    Just asking, but since Sage can offer so much functionality, I wonder if now the community gets one more extra boost.

    • by Vireo ( 190514 )

      Does this mean one less reason (scientific field) to use commercial Matlab and prefer free Sage/ActionPython/NumPy/SciPy/matplotlib?

      I'm not sure about ActionPython -- why pay for a bundle of free components? But I for one am a long-time Matlab user, and I am slowly migrating towards Python (using numpy, scipy, matplotlib, ipython, etc.). Migration is slow mainly because I have to recode some of my own Matlab tools, but so far it's been succesful. Not painless mind you, as the differences in numpy and Matlab can cause really subtle bugs.

      So while it's great that ActivePython now gets numpy and matplotlib, I wouldn't say there is one less

      • That's one reply I was looking for. Indeed I agree that the situation is as you describe it.

        Nevertheless, for the frugal scientist, Sage and there rest of Python toolkits seem like nice alternatives.

    • by pavon ( 30274 )

      Or you can use Octave which is about the same performance as python + SciPy/NumPy/matplotlib, but has the added benefit of being largely compatible with Matlab.

    • I've been using Python + SciPy / NumPy / matplotlib / IPython at work recently and it's awesome. I don't have a MATLAB license, so whereas some of my colleagues are using MATLAB, I've been doing my plotting and analysis work with just Open Source tools. I played with Octave (albeit the Cygwin port) and SciLab but in the end, the Python-based solution gave me access to a core programming language that's very neat and that I like, plus it's really fast and proficient at dealing with large datasets. It's no

  • Use Macports. Manual package management is something I try to avoid - 'sudo port install matplotlib py26-matplotlib' and all the dependencies and compiling are taken care of, not to mention the ability to cleanly uninstall if you wish. Macports recently upped to v1.9.1, which now tracks which ports you requested, so it's easy to prune away orphan libraries you no longer need.

    And matplotlib is a gem. It's got a ridiculuous number of plot-styles so it's remarkably flexible - if you are into GIS, look at
    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      Unless Macports supports Aqua now, don't do it.


      1. Install Python (available as a double click install from
      2. Install Matplotlib (available as a double click install form
      2 (alternate). At the command line type easy_install matplotlib

  • I hate to essentially troll, and I hate to burst your bubbles, but these math packages aren't really doing anything all that wonderanomous. The guy I learned numerical analysis from in college used to use Excel to do a lot of his numerical techniques - and used to do a lot of them on a TI-80. Numerical analysis is all about knowing a lot to write an efficient algorithm to get the answer.

    I've done Q/R decomposition in VB6 (for a real honest to god client! for money!)

    I'm glad these tools are around for peo

    • by Japher ( 887294 )

      Except that NumPy will use LAPACK and BLAS for it's linear algebra making it far more efficient. Try a QR decomposition on a matrix of any significant size in VB, then do the same decomposition using LAPACK and you'll see a huge difference. As for numerical analysis being about writing efficient algorithms, sure, that's true, but why would you want to rewrite those algorithms when highly optimized versions come by default?

      Disclaimer: Yes, I'm sure you could get VB to use LAPACK and BLAS but python will do i

      • You're comparing apples and cadillacs. Excel doesn't use LAPACK either, but Prof used to dig it because of it's profound recursive capabilties. I didn't write the Vb6 code from scratch - it was originally written in Fortran using LAPACK there, and for some reason the guy wanted it in VB6 (I guess so he could enter the parameters from a database using a form.) It was a simulation of some complexity and ran well enough for his purposes. The same calculations were being done, on ordinary PCs.

        It's a distinc

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