Comparer Functions #

By default, FormulaGrader, NumericalGrader, and MatrixGrader compare the numerically-sampled author formula and student formula for equality (within bounds specified by tolerance). Occasionally, it can be useful to compare author and student formulas in some other way. Functions that perform the actual comparison are called "comparers", and there are a few ways to invoke them.

Employing Comparer Functions #

When an answer is passed into FormulaGrader, NumericalGrader or MatrixGrader, it is automatically paired up with a comparer. For example, the default comparer is equality_comparer. When you construct a grader like the following,

>>> from mitxgraders import *
>>> grader1 = FormulaGrader(
...     answers='a+b',
...     variables=['a', 'b']
... )

FormulaGrader automatically converts the answers key to the following:

>>> grader2 = FormulaGrader(
...     answers={
...         'expect': {'comparer': equality_comparer, 'comparer_params': ['a+b']},
...         'grade_decimal': 1,
...         'msg': ''
...     },
...     variables=['a', 'b']
... )
>>> grader1 == grader2

To specify an alternate comparer, you can simply change the relevant answer to a dictionary {'comparer': comparer_func, 'comparer_params': [list, of, params]}. Different comparers use comparer_params in different ways.

For example, if grading angles in degrees, it may be useful to compare formulas modulo 2π. You can write your own comparer functions, but for this we can use the pre-built congruent_modulo comparer. This grader will accept any input congruent to 'b^2/a' modulo 2*pi.

>>> grader = FormulaGrader(
...     answers={
...         'comparer': congruence_comparer,
...         # first parameter is expected value, second is the modulus
...         'comparer_params': ['b^2/a', '2*pi']
...     },
...     variables=['a', 'b']
... )
>>> grader(None, 'b^2/a + 6*pi')['ok']
>>> grader(None, 'b^2/a + 5.5*pi')['ok']

Here, the comparer_params (['b^2/a', '2*pi']) are evaluated just like the student input, and used by the comparer function during grading.

Changing Defaults #

The default comparer function for each of FormulaGrader, NumericalGrader and MatrixGrader can be set by calling set_default_comparer as follows:

>>> FormulaGrader.set_default_comparer(LinearComparer())

This sets the default comparer to LinearComparer() (see below) for all FormulaGraders in the given problem. Comparers set in this manner must only take a single comparer parameter. Using this default set approach is typically simpler than setting comparers explicitly, and allows answers to be inferred from expect values. However, comparers that require two or more comparer_params cannot use this method.

If for some reason you need to reset the default comparer, you can use

>>> FormulaGrader.reset_default_comparer()

which is equivalent to setting the default comparer to equality_comparer.

Available Comparers #

The table below lists the pre-built comparers along with the expected comparer parameters. Note that comparer_params is always a list of strings, and can use any variables available to the student. When using an ordered ListGrader, they can also use sibling values.

comparer use with comparer_params
(a list of strings)
equality_comparer FormulaGrader
[expected] checks that student input and expected differ by less than grader's tolerance.
congruence_comparer FormulaGrader
[expected, modulus] reduces student input modulo modulus, then checks for equality within grader's tolerance.
between_comparer FormulaGrader
[start, stop] checks that student input is real and between start and stop.
eigenvector_comparer MatrixGrader [matrix, eigenvalue] checks that student input is an eigenvector of matrix with eigenvalue eigenvalue within grader's tolerance.
vector_phase_comparer MatrixGrader [comparison_vector] checks that student input is equal to comparison_vector up to a phase, within grader's tolerance.
vector_span_comparer MatrixGrader [vector1, vector2, ...] checks that student input is nonzero and in the span of the given list of vectors, within grader's tolerance. If only a single vector is given, checks if the student input is equal to the given vector up to a (possibly complex) constant of proportionality.

All of these comparers (as well as the ones below) are available when using from mitxgraders import *.

Special Comparers #

There are three special built-in comparer classes that can be used as comparers that take in a single input.

EqualityComparer #

The EqualityComparer class simply checks for equality up to tolerance. In fact, equality_comparer = EqualityComparer(). The reason this class exists, however, is to allow for an extra option to be used when desired.

The transform option allows the author to specify a transforming function to be called on both the answer and the student input prior to comparison. Here is an example:

>>> import numpy as np
>>> comparer = EqualityComparer(transform=np.real)

This comparer will take the real part of the answer and the student input before comparing the results. This is useful if only the real part of the answers need to agree.

LinearComparer #

The LinearComparer checks if the student's answer is linearly related to the problem's answer, and can provide partial credit as appropriate. Here are all of the options:

comparer = LinearComparer(
    equals=float,  # default 1
    proportional=(None | float),  # default 0.5
    offset=(None | float),  # default None
    linear=(None | float),  # default None
    equals_msg=(None | str),  # default None
    proportional_msg=(None | str),  # default 'The submitted answer differs from an expected answer by a constant factor.'
    offset_msg=(None | str),  # default None
    linear_msg=(None | str),  # default None

The first four settings specify how much credit to award the different situations, while the next four describe a message to display when that credit is awarded. Note that setting credit to None means that that type of credit will never be awarded, while setting credit to 0 means that it can be awarded (usually to display the relevant message). When the grading is performed, the largest credit of the available settings is awarded.

Here is an example of a LinearComparer that can be used to award partial credit if students are off from the answer by a constant multiple.

>>> comparer = LinearComparer()

Easy, isn't it? You can combine this with set_default_comparer to enable partial credit of this sort with one line in each problem!

Here is an example of setting up a LinearComparer that doesn't care about shift offsets (useful when describing indefinite integration).

>>> comparer = LinearComparer(proportional=None, linear=1)

Note that LinearComparer can only perform meaningful comparisons when random variables are used. If the answer is a numerical constant, then student answers will always be proportional to that constant, which probably isn't the desired behavior. Also note that when the answer is zero or the student supplies zero as their answer, partial credit cannot be assigned.

MatrixEntryComparer #

This comparer is used only for MatrixGraders. It has a transform option that is exactly equivalent to EqualityComparer, but it also has two options related to partial credit.

comparer = MatrixEntryComparer(
    transform=(None | func),  # default None
    entry_partial_credit=('proportional' | float),  # default 0
    entry_partial_msg=str,  # default "Some array entries are incorrect, marked below:\n{error_locations}"

When entry_partial_credit is set to a number, if at least one entry in the array is correct (but not all of them), that amount of credit is assigned. When partial credit is assigned, the message entry_partial_msg is displayed to the student, with the text {error_locations} replaced by a graphic displaying which entries are correct/incorrect. To turn off the message, simply set entry_partial_msg=''. Setting entry_partial_msg='' and entry_partial_credit=0 makes this grader equivalent to EqualityComparer.

Because this ability to assign partial credit to array input is so useful, MatrixEntryComparer can be set as the grader for MatrixGraders using configuration options.

Custom Comparer Functions #

In addition to using the built-in comparers, you can write your own.

See for documentation and examples.