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From Greg Sterijevski <>
Subject [math] Multiple Algorithms
Date Thu, 01 Sep 2011 05:05:00 GMT
Hello All,

This question popped into my head this evening, what is the right way to
handle multiple algorithms which purport to calculate the same thing? There
are, for example, a couple of ways to calculate the student t cdf. What is
the common's philosophy on deciding:

1. Whether to allow multiple algorithms.
2. How an algorithm is included.
    a.) Does a 'bug' or shortcoming need to be shown in the current
    b.) Say that algorithm a works for a numerical range and b works best on
another. Are both included? Is a new 'meta' algorithm written which mixes
both a and b?
3. Does simplicity count?
4. Does speed matter?

A while back, Chris Nix reimplemented the SVD routine. I am not sure I
remember the old routine so I cannot say there was anything worth keeping
there. However was there a conscious decision to scrap it? Why not have it
live side by side with the new one? (Again, I am not saying the old
algorithm was better-Chris' contribution definitely was valuable). I think
we will run into these issues often.

Thoughts? If this has been discussed already, my apologies.


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