Dyalog supports the use of a negative rank
parameter, while GNU APL does not. Instead GNU APL follows the
ISO spec which says that a negative value should be clamped to
However, the Dyalog model is quite useful. Here's how it's
described in their documentation:
“The Rank operator ⍤
applies function f successively to the sub-arrays in Y
by k. If k is positive, it selects the k-cells of Y. If k is
negative, it selects the (r+k)-
cells of Y where r is its rank. If k is ¯1 it selects the
major cells of Y.”
I think it seems reasonable to adapt this to GNU APL as
About the ISO specification of ⍤
In writing the above message, I was reading the ISO
specification for the rank operator, and I find it incredibly
confusing. I have quoted the description below, and based on
my reading of this text, the rank parameter is not just a
single value, but can be up to three values. However,
no matter how I read it, I still can't see how any but the the
very first value is actually every used.
Also, the case where LENGTH ERROR is supposed to be raised
does not happen in GNU APL.
It seems as the specification for the rank operator is just
broken on several levels in the spec. That seems to me to be
reason enough to not pay attention to the spec in this case
and just adapt the way Dyalog does it.
Here's the spec for the rank operator from the ISO spec:
The result of f⍤y is a function which, when
applied to B, returns Z, the result of
applying the function f to the rank-y cells
If y is a scalar, set y1 to ,y.
Otherwise set y1 to y.
If y1 is not a vector, signal domain-error.
If y1 has more than three elements,
If any element of y1 is not a near-integer,
Set y2 to ⌽3⍴⌽y1.
Set y3 to the first-item in y2.
Set y4 to the integer-nearest-to y3.
If y4 exceeds the rank of B, set y5
to the rank of B, otherwise set y5 to y4.
If y5 is negative, set y6 to 0⌈y5 plus
the rank of B, otherwise set y6 to y5.
Apply f to the rank-y6 cells of B.
Conform the individual result cells. Let their common
shape after conforming be q, and let p be
the frame of B with respect to f, that is,
(rank of B) minus y6, and
return the overall result with shape p,q.