Package for Forward/Reverse Autodifferentiation

## Project description

# Dotua Documentation

### Nick Stern, Vincent Viego, Summer Yuan, Zach Wehrwein

## Introduction

Calculus, according to the American mathematician Michael Spivak in his noted textbook, is fundamentally the study of "infinitesimal change." An infinitesimal change, according to Johann Bernoulli as Spivak quotes, is so tiny that "if a quantity is increased or decreased by an infinitesimal, then that quantity is neither increased nor decreased." The study of these infinitesimal changes is the study of relationships of change, not the computation of change itself. The derivative is canonically found as function of a limit of a point as it approaches 0 -- we care about knowing the relationship of change, not the computation of change itself.

One incredibly important application of the derivative is varieties of optimization problems. Machines are able to traverse gradients iteratively through calculations of derivatives. However, in machine learning applications, it is possible to have millions of parameters for a given neural net and this would imply a combinatorially onerous number of derivatives to compute analytically. A numerical Newton's method approach (iteratively calculating through guesses of a limit) is likewise not a wise alternative because even for "very small" , the end result can be orders of magnitude off in error relative to machine precision.

So, one might think that a career in ML thus requires an extensive calculus background, but, Ryan P Adams, formerly of Twitter (and Harvard IACS), now of Princeton CS, describes automatic differentiation as "getting rid of the math that gets in the way of solving a [ML] problem." What we ultimately care about is tuning the hyperparameters of a machine learning algorithm, so if we can get a machine to do this for us, that is ultimately what we care about. What is implemented in this package is automatic differentiation which allows us to calculate derivatives of complex functions to machine precision 'without the math getting in the way.'

One of the most crucial applications of auto-differentiation is backpropagation in neural networks. Backpropagation is the process by which weights are optimized relative to a loss function. These steps are illustrated through a simple neural network example.

## Background

The most important calculus derivative rule for automatic differentiation is the multivariate chain rule.

The basic chain rule states that the derivative of a composition of functions is:

That is, the derivative is a function of the incremental change in the outer function applied to the inner function, multiplied by the change in the inner function.

In the multivariate case, we can apply the chain rule as well as the rule of total differentiation. For instance, if we have a simple equation:

Then,

The partial derivatives:

The total variation of y depends on both the variations in u, v and thus,

What this trivial example illustrates is that the derivative of a multivariate function is ultimately the addition of the partial derivatives and computations of its component variables. If a machine can compute any given sub-function as well as the partial derivative between any sub-functions, then the machine need only add-up the product of a function and its derivatives to calculate the total derivative.

An intuitive way of understanding automatic differentiation is to think of any complicated function as ultimately a a graph of composite functions. Each node is a primitive operation -- one in which the derivative is readily known -- and the edges on this graph -- the relationship of change between any two variables -- are partial derivatives. The sum of the paths between any two nodes is thus the partial derivative between those two functions (this a graph restatement of the total derivative via the chain rule).

### Forward Mode

Forward mode automatic differentiation thus begins at an input to a graph and sums the source paths. The below diagrams (from Christopher Olah's blog) provide an intuition for this process. The relationship between three variables (X, Y, Z) is defined by a number of paths (). Forward mode begins with a seed of 1, and then in each node derivative is the product of the sum of the previous steps.

Consequently, provided that within each node there is an elementary function, the machine can track the derivative through the computational graph.

There is one last piece of the puzzle: dual numbers which extend the reals by restating each real as , where . Symbolic evaluation, within a machine, can quickly become computational untenable because the machine must hold in memory variables and their derivatives in the successive expansions of the rules of calculus. Dual numbers allow us to track the derivative of even a complicated function, as a kind of data structure that caries both the derivative and the primal of a number.

In our chain rule equation, there are two pieces to the computation: the derivative of the outer function applied to the inner function and that value multiplied by the derivative of the inner function. This means that the full symbolic representation of an incredibly complicated function can grow to exponentially many terms. However, dual numbers allow us to parse that symbolic representation in bitesized pieces that can be analytically computed. The reason for this is the Taylor series expansion of a function:

When one evaluates , given that , then all the higher order terms drop out (they are 0) and one is left with

### Reverse Mode

One intuition for reverse mode auto differentiation is to consider again our chain-rule-as-graph notion.

One intuitive motivation for this (h/t Rufflewind) is to think of reverse mode as an inversion of the chain-rule.

In this notation, the derivative for some output variable w to some variable *t* is a linear combination of derivatives for each u_i that w is connected to.

By flipping the numerator and the denominator, this is the notation of the partial derivative of a new parameter s with respect to the input variable u.

The graph theory intuition is perhaps the most straightforward: just as a machine computes an equation in a series of steps, reverse mode is the traversal of that computational graph in reverse. In the context of a neural network in which we wish to minimize weights relative to some loss function, this allows us to efficiently retrace our path without attempting to reevaluate the weights of what could be an incredibly complex network.

To recap: automatic differentiation is an algorithmic means of computing complicated derivatives by parsing those functions as a graph structures to be traversed. Dual numbers are used as a sort of mathematical data structure which allows the machine to analytically compute the derivative at any given node. It is superior to analytic or symbolic differentiation because it is actually computationally feasible on modern machines! And it is superior to numerical methods because automatic differentiation is far more accurate (it achieves machine precision). It is therefore extremely useful for applications like backpropagation on neutral networks.

## How to Use Dotua

### How to Install

To install our package, one can simply use pip install like so:

$ pip install Dotua

### Import and Usage Examples

#### Forward Mode

In order to instantiate a forward mode auto-differentiation object from our package, the user shall first import the AutoDiff function from the Dotua library as such:

from Dotua.autodiff import AutoDiff as ad

The general workflow for the user is as follows:

- Instantiate all variables as AutoDiff objects.
- Input these variables into operators from the
**Operator**class within the Dotua library to create more complex expressions that propagate the derivative using forward mode automatic differentiation.

The **AutoDiff** class is the core constructor for all variables in the function
that are to be differentiated. There are two options for instantiating
variables: **Scalar** and **Vector**, generated with *create_scalar()* and *create_vector()* respectively. **Scalar** variables have a single value per
variable, while **Vector** variables can have multiple associated values. The
general schematic for how the user shall instantiate **AutoDiff** objects is
outlined below:

- Create either a
**Scalar**or**Vector AutoDiff**object to generate seed variables to later build the function to be differentiated. The initialization works as follows:

x, y = ad.create_scalar(vals = [1, 2]) z = ad.create_vector(vals = [1, 2, 3])

- Next, the user shall import the
**Operator**class and pass in these variables into elementary functions as follows:

from Dotua.operator import Operator as op result = op.sin(x * y) results = op.sin(z)

Simple operators, such as sums and products, can be used normally:

result = 6 * x results = z + 4

- Finally, (as a continuation of the previous example), the user may access the value and derivative of a function using the
*eval()*and*partial()*methods:

print(result.eval()) # 6 print(result.partial(x)) # 6 print(result.partial(y)) # 0

For **Scalar** variables, *result.eval()* will return the value of the function,
while *result.partial(v)* will return the partial derivative with respect to any variable, *v*. For **Vector** variables, *results.eval()* returns a list of tuples
(value, jacobian), with one tuple for each function in the vector. The jacobian is a dictionary that represents the
derivative of that element with respect to all of the elements in the vector.

#### Reverse Mode

The initialization for reverse mode variables is very similar to forward mode. The only difference is that there is an "r" in front of the module names. Additionally, for the initialization of reverse mode variables, the user must instantiate an initializer object. This differs from the forward mode variables which can be initialized using static methods. One can initialize a reverse mode scalar object as follows:

from Dotua.rautodiff import rAutoDiff rad = rAutoDiff() x, y, z = rad.create_rscalar([1, 2, 3])

In reverse mode, when the user calls the gradient function, they must specify the variable they would like to differentiate with respect to. This time, the gradient function simply returns a numeric constant. An example of this is shown below:

f = x + y + z f_gradx = rad.partial(f, x) # f_gradx = 1

The following code shows how the user may interact with rVector. Note that rVector operates differently in reverse mode, as it is mainly an extension to allow one to compute rScalar functions for a vector of values.

v = rad.create_rvector([1, 2 ,3]) g = 2*v g_grad = rad.partial(g, v) # g_grad = [2, 2, 2]

### Examples

There are several files in the top level directory of the Dotua package that demonstrate the usage of the package.

The first file is an interactive jupyter notebook which contains an example use case where the Dotua package performs well, namely, the Newton-Raphson method for approximating roots of functions. This notebook is titled "newton_demo.ipynb" and resides in "examples" folder in the top level directory of the package. The output of this demo is reproduced here for convenience:

A second file is an example of how our reverse mode auto differentiation package can be used to do backpropagation in a neural network. The file is called "neuralnet_demo.ipynb"

For some output y_hat and set of inputs X, the task of a neural network is to find a function which minimizes a loss function, like MSE:

Where N is the number of data points, f_i the value returned by the model and y_i the true value for y at a given observation i. A 'dense' neural network will involve connections between every parameter and these edges each contain a weight value. The task is to find the weights which minimize the distance between y_hat and y. Because each node is connected to every other, this captures non-linearities as certain parameters may be more expressive than others. However, this also carries computational burdens.

Backwards auto-differentiation is particularly useful means of traversing the graph and refitting those weights.

Here we implement a toy neural network that has only one hidden layer. Using R.A. Fischer's well-known Iris dataset -- a collection of measurements of flowers and their respective species -- we predict species based on their floral measurements. As the first scatter plot indicates, there is a clear separation boundary between the setosa plants and the other two species, versicolor and virginica. To capture the boundary between each species would require more complexity, and so our simple neural network can only capture the biggest boundary -- a consequence of our package using reverse auto differentiation to fit the appropriate gradient. This is not a neural networks package, but an auto-differentiation package and this is just an illustration of one very useful application.

## Software Organization

### Directory Structure

Our project will adhere to the directory structure outlined in the python-packaging documentation. At a high level, the project has the following structure:

Dotua/ __init__.py autodiff.py operator.py rautodiff.py roperator.py nodes/ __init__.py node.py rscalar.py rvector.py scalar.py vector.py tests/ __init__.py test_initializer.py test_operator.py test_rautodiff.py test_roperator.py test_rscalar.py test_scalar.py test_vector.py docs/ documentation.md milestone1.md milestone2.md examples/ __init__.py newton_demo.py neural_network_demo.py ... LICENSE MANIFEST.in README.md requirements.txt setup.py .gitignore

### Modules

#### Dotua/

The **Dotua** module contains the codes for forward mode implementation and reverse mode implementation.

It contains *AutoDiff* (autodiff.py), which is the driver of the forward mode autodifferentiation. The driver helps the users with getting access to the *Node* superclass (node.py) and associated subclasses (i.e., *Vector* (vector.py) and *Scalar* (scalar.py)) in the *nodes* file, and the *Operator* class (operator.py).

It also contains *rAutoDiff* (rautodiff.py), which is the driver of the reverse mode autodifferentiation. The driver helps the users with getting access to the *rScalar* class (rscalar.py) and *rVector* class (rvector.py) in the *nodes* file and the *rOperator* class (roperator.py).

#### examples/

The **Examples** module has Python files with documented use cases of the library. Examples include an implementation of Newton’s Method for approximating the roots of a non-linear function and a module which computes local extrema and an implementation of Neural Network for prediction problems.

#### tests/

The **Tests** module contains the project’s testing suite and is formatted according to the pytest requirements for automatic test discovery.

### Testing

#### Overview

The majority of the testing in Dotua's test suite consists of unit testing. The aim is to verify the correctness of the application with thorough unit testing of all simple usages of the forward and reverse modes of automatic differentiation. Essentially, this involves validating that our application produces correct calculations (evaluations and derivatives) for all elementary functions. Additionally, a range of more complex unit testing covers advanced scenarios such as functions with multidimensional domains and codomains (for forward mode) as well as functions with inherent complexity generated from the composition of elementary functions.

#### Test Automation

Dotua uses continuous integration testing through **Travis CI** to perform
automated, machine independent testing. Additionally, Dotua uses **Coveralls**
to validate the high code coverage of our testing suite (currently 100%).
Travis CI and Coveralls badges are embedded into the project README to provide transparency for users interacting with our project through GitHub.

#### Installation

To install our package, one can simply use **pip install** like so:

$ pip install Dotua

#### User Verification

The entire Dotua test suite is included in the project distribution. Thus, users are able to verify correctness for themselves using pytest after installing the Dotua package.

### Distribution

#### Licensing

Dotua is distributed under the GNU GPLv3 license to allow free “as is” usage while requiring all extensions to remain open source.

## Implementation

The purpose of the Dotua library is to perform automatic differentation
on user defined functions, where the domain and codomain may be single- or
multi-dimensional (*n.b. this library provides support for both the forward
and reverse modes of automatic differentation, but for the reverse mode only
functions with single-dimensional codomains are supported*). At a high level,
Dotua serves as a partial replacement for NumPy in the sense that
Dotua provides methods for many of the mathematical functions
(e.g., trigonometric, inverse trigonometric, hyperbolic, etc.) that NumPy
implements; however, while the NumPy versions of these methods can only provide function evaluation, the Dotua equivalents provide both evaluation and differentiation.

To achieve this, the Dotua library implements the following abstract ideas:

- Allowing users to be as expressive as they would like to be by providing our own versions of binary and unary operators.
- Forward AD: keeping track of the value and derivative of user defined expressions and functions.
- Reverse AD: constructing a computational graph from user defined functions that can be used to quickly compute gradients.

With these goals in mind, the Dotua forward mode implementation relies on
the **Nodes** modules and the **Operator** class and allows user interface
through the **AutoDiff** class which serves as a **Node** factory for initializing instances of *Scalar* and *Vector*. Analogously, the Dotua reverse mode
implementation relies on the **Nodes** module and the **rOperator** class
and facilitates user interface through the **rAutoDiff** class which serves as a
factory for initializing instances of *rScalar*.

## Nodes

The **Nodes** module contains a *Node* superclass with the following basic design:

class Node(): def eval(self): ''' For the Scalar and Vector subclasses, this function returns the node's value as well as its derivative, both of which are guaranteed to be up to date by the class' operator overloads. Returns (self._val, self._jacobian) ''' raise NotImplementedError def __add__(self, other): raise NotImplementedError def __radd__(self, other): raise NotImplementedError def __mul__(self, other): raise NotImplementedError def __rmul__(self, other): raise NotImplementedError ... # Additional operator overloads

Essentially, the role of the *Node* class (which in abstract terms is meant to
represent a node in the computational graph underlying forward mode automatic differentiation of user defined expressions) is to serve as an interface for two
other classes in the **Nodes** package: *Scalar*, *Vector*, *rScalar*, *rVector*. Each of these subclasses implements the required operator overloading as necessary for scalar
and vector functions respectively (i.e., addition, multiplication, subtraction, division, power, etc.). This logic is separated into four separate classes to
provide increased organization for higher dimensional functions and to allow
class methods to use assumptions of specific properties of scalars and vectors
to reduce implementation complexity.

Both the *Scalar* class and the *Vector* class have *_val* and *_jacobian* class attributes which allow for forward automatic differentiation by keeping track of
each node's value and derivative. Both the *rScalar* class and the *rVector* class have *_roots* and *_grad_val* class attributes which allow for
reverse auto differentiation by storing the computational graph and intermediate gradient value.

### Scalar

The *Scalar* class is used for user defined one-dimensional variables.
Specifically, users can define functions of scalar variables (i.e., functions
defined over multiple scalar variables with a one-dimensional codomain) using
instances of *Scalar* in order to simultaneously calculate the function value
and first derivative at a pre-chosen point of evaluation using forward mode
automatic differentiation. Objects of the *Scalar* class are initialized with a
value (i.e., the point of evaluation) which is stored in the class attribute **self._val** (n.b., as the single underscore suggests, this attribute should
not be directly accessed or modified by the user). Additionally, *Scalar*
objects – which could be either individual scalar variables or expressions of
scalar variables – keep track of their own derivatives in the class attribute **self._jacobian**. This derivative is implemented as a dictionary with *Scalar* objects serving as the keys and real numbers as values. Note that each *Scalar* object's **_jacobian** attribute has an entry for all scalar variables which the
object might interact with (see AutoDiff Initializer section for more
information).

Users interact with *Scalar* objects in two ways:

**eval(self)**: This method allows users to obtain the value for a*Scalar*object at the point of evaluation defined when the user first initialized their*Scalar*objects. Specifically, this method returns the float**self._val**.**partial(self, var)**: This method allows users to obtain a partial derivative of the given*Scalar*object with respect to**var**. If**self**is one of the*Scalar*objects directly initialized by the user (see AutoDiff Initializer section), then**partial()**returns 1 if**var == self**and 0 otherwise. If**self**is a*Scalar*object formed by an expression of other*Scalar*objects (e.g.,**self = Scalar(1) + Scalar(2)**), then this method returns the correct partial derivative of**self**with respect to**var**.

Note that these are the only methods that users should be calling for *Scalar*
objects and that users should not be directly accessing any of the object's
class attributes.

*Scalar* objects support left- and right-sided addition, subtraction,
multiplication, division, exponentiation, and negation.

### rScalar

The *rScalar* class is the reverse mode automatic differentiation analog of
the *Scalar* class. That is to say, *rScalar* is used for user defined
one-dimensional variables with which users can define scalar functions (i.e.,
functions defined over multiple scalar variables with a one-dimensional
codomain) in order to calculate the function value and later easily determine
the function's gradient reverse mode automatic differentiation (see the
rAutoDiff Initializer section for more details). Objects of the *rScalar*
class are initialized with a value (i.e., the point of evaluation) which is
stored in the class attribute **self._val** (n.b., as the
single underscore suggests, this attribute should not be directly accessed or
modified by the user). Additionally, *rScalar* objects – which could be either individual scalar variables or expressions of scalar variables – explicitly
construct the computational graph used in automatic differentiation in the class
attribute **self.roots()**. This attribute represents the computational graph
as a dictionary where keys represent the children and the values represent the derivatives of the children
with respect to *rScalar* *self*. This dictionary
is constructed explicitly through operator overloading whenever the user
defines functions using *rScalar* objects.

Users interact with *rScalar* objects in one way:

**eval(self)**: This method allows users to obtain the value for an*rScalar*object at the point of evaluation defined when the user first initialized the*rScalar*object. Specifically, this method returns the value of the attribute**self._val**.

Note that this is the only method that users should be calling for *rScalar*
objects and that users should not be directly accessing any of the object's
class attributes. While the *rScalar* class contains a *gradient()* method,
this method is for internal use only. Users should only be obtaining the
derivatives of functions represented by *rScalar* objects through the
*partial()* method provided in the *rAutoDiff* initializer class (see rAutoDiff
Initializer section for more details).

*rScalar* objects support left- and right-sided addition, subtraction,
multiplication, division, exponentiation, and negation.

### Vector

*Vector* is a subclass of *Node*. Every vector variable consists of a 1-d numpy array to store the values and a 2-d numpy array to store the jacobian matrix.
User can use index to acess specific element in a *Vector* instance. And operations between elements in the same vector instance and operations between vectors are implemented by overloading the operators of the class.

## AutoDiff Initializer

The AutoDiff class functions as a **Node** factory, allowing the user to initialize
variables for the sake of constructing arbitrary functions. Because the **Node**
class serves only as an interface for the *Scalar* and *Vector* classes, users
should not instantiate objects of the *Node* class directly. Thus, we
define the *AutoDiff* class in the following way to allow users to initialize
*Scalar* and *Vector* variables:

from Dotua.nodes.scalar import Scalar from Dotua.nodes.vector import Vector class AutoDiff(): @staticmethod def create_scalar(vals): ''' @vals denotes the evaluation points of variables for which the user would like to create Scalar variables. If @vals is a list, the function returns a list of Scalar variables with @vals values. If @vals is a single value, the user receives a single Scalar variable (not as a list). This function also initializes the jacobians of all variables allocated. ''' pass @staticmethod def create_vector(vals): ''' The idea is similar to create_scalar. This will allow the user to create vectors and specify initial values for the elements of the vectors. ''' pass

Using the *create_scalar* and *create_vector* methods, users are able to
initialize variables for use in constructing arbitrary functions. Additionally,
users are able to specify initial values for these variables. Creating variables
in this way will ensure that users are able to use the Dotua defined
operators to both evaluate functions and compute their derivatives.

### Variable Universes

The implementaiton of the AutoDiff library makes the following assumption:
for each environment in which the user uses autodifferentiable variables
(i.e., *Scalar* and *Vector* objects), the user initializes all such variables
with a single call to **create_scalar** or **create_vector**. This assumption
allows *Scalar* and *Vector* objects to fully initialize their jacobians before
being used by the user. This greatly reduces implementation complexity.

This design choice should not restrict users in their construction of arbitrary
functions for the reason that in order to define a function, the user must
know how many primitive scalar variables they need to use in advance. Realize
that this does not mean that a user is prevented from defining new Python
variables as functions of previously created *Scalar* objects, but only that a
user, in defining a mathematical function **f(x, y, z)** must initialize
**x, y, and z** with a single call to **create_scalar**. It is perfectly
acceptable that in the definition of **f(x, y, z)** a Python variable such as
**a = x + y** is created. The user is guaranteed that **a.eval()** and
**a.partial(x), a.partial(y), and a.partial(z)** are all well defined and correct because **a** in this case is an instance of *Scalar*; however, it is not a
"primitive" scalar variable and thus the user could not take a partial
derivative with respect to **a**.

## rAutoDiff Initializer

The rAutoDiff class functions as an **rScalar** factory, allowing the user to
initialize variables for the sake of constructing arbitrary functions of which
they want to later determine the derivative using reverse mode automatic
differentiation. Because the same *rScalar* variables can be used to define
multiple functions, users must instantiate an rAutoDiff object to manage
the *rScalar* objects they create and calcuate the gradients of different
functions of the same variables. Thus, we define the *rAutoDiff* class in the following ways:

from Dotua.nodes.rscalar import rScalar class rAutoDiff(): def __init__(self): self.func = None def create_rscalar(vals): ''' @vals denotes the evaluation points of variables for which the user would like to create rScalar variables. If @vals is a list, the function returns a list of rScalar variables with @vals values. If @vals is a single value, the user receives a single rScalar variable (not as a list). This function also adds the new rScalar object(s) to the _universe of the rAutoDiff object. ''' pass def partial(self, func, var): ''' This method allows users to calculate the derivative of @func the function of rScalar objects with respect to the variable represented by the rScalar @var. This method also sets the self.func attribute of the rAutoDiff object to the given @func. ''' pass def _reset_universe(self, func, var): ''' This method is for internal use only. When a user calls partial(), the rAutoDiff object will first call _reset_universe() to reset then grad_val variables of the necessary rScalar objects before calculating the desired derivative. ''' pass

By instantiating an *rAutoDiff* object and using the *create_rscalar* method,
users are able to initialize variables for use in constructing arbitrary
functions. Additionally, users are able to specify initial values for these
variables. Creating variables in this way will ensure that users are able to
use the Dotua defined operators to both evaluate functions and compute their
derivatives. Furthermore, using the *partial* method, users are able to
determine the derivative of their constructed function with respect to
a specified *rScalar* variable.

## Operator

The *Operator* class defines static methods for elementary mathematical
functions and operators (specifically those that cannot be overloaded in the
*Scalar* and *Vector* classes) that can be called by users in constructing arbitrary functions. The *Operator* class will import the Nodes module in order to
return new *Scalar* or *Vector* variables as appropriate. The design of the
*Operator* class is as follows:

import numpy as np from Dotua.nodes.scalar import Scalar from Dotua.nodes.vector import Vector class Operator(): @staticmethod def sin(x): pass @staticmethod def cos(x): pass ... # Other elementary functions

For each method defined in the *Operator* class, our implementation uses
ducktyping to return the necessary object. If user passes a *Scalar* object
to one of the methods then a new *Scalar* object is returned to the user
with the correct value and jacobian. If user passes a *Vector* object
to one of the methods then a new *Vector* object is returned to the user
with the correct value and jacobian. On the other hand, if the user passes
a Python numeric type, then the method returns the evaluation of the
corresponding NumPy method on the given argument
(e.g., **op.sin(1) = np.sin(1)**).

## rOperator

Similarly, the *rOperator* class defines static methods for elementary mathematical
functions and operators (specifically those that cannot be overloaded in the
*rScalar* class) that can be called by users in constructing arbitrary functions. The design of the
*rOperator* class is as follows:

import numpy as np from Dotua.nodes.rscalar import rScalar from Dotua.nodes.rvector import rVector class rOperator(): @staticmethod def sin(x): pass @staticmethod def cos(x): pass ... # Other elementary functions

Once again, for each method defined in the *rOperator* class, our implementation uses
ducktyping to return the necessary object. If user passes an *rScalar* object
to one of the methods, then a new *rScalar* object is returned to the user
with the correct value and self/child link. If user passes an *rVector* object
to one of the methods, then a new *rVector* object is returned to the user
with the correct value and parent/child links. On the other hand, if the user passes
a Python numeric type, then the method returns the evaluation of the
corresponding NumPy method on the given argument
(e.g., **rop.sin(1) = np.sin(1)**).

## A Note on Comparisons

It is important to note that the Dotua library intentionally does not overload
comparison operators for its variables class (i.e., *Scalar*, *rScalar*,
*Vector*, and *rVector*). Users should only use the the equality and inequality operators == and !=
to determine object equivalence. For users wishing to perform comparisons on
the values of functions or variables composed of *Scalar*, *rScalar*,
*Vector*, or *rVector* variables with the values of functions or variables of the same type,
they can do so by accessing the values with the **eval()** function.

## External Depencies

Dotua restricts dependencies on third-party libraries to the necessary minimum. Thus, the only external dependencies are NumPy, and SciPy NumPy is used as necessary within the library for mathematical computation (e.g., trigonometric functions). SciPy is used within the Newton-Raphson Demo as a comparison.

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