Re: Python from Wise Guy's Viewpoint

From: Pascal Costanza (costanza_at_web.de)
Date: 10/27/03


Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 17:14:55 +0100

Ingvar Mattsson wrote:

>>It would be interesting to study where this division stems from.
>
> I think it stems from a very deep divide between "technology" and
> "science" (where the two are quite often confounded as being "the
> same"). Technology is, deep down, "this works" and science is, deep
> down, "this is truth". Quite often, "this is truth" leads to "this
> works" and likewise, "this works" is often because "this is true".
>
> But there are edge cases where all we can say with current
> understanding "this works, but we have no clue as to why". At that
> point, the scientist gets uncomfortable and the technologist says "ah,
> well, it works, we can bother about why another day".
>
> In this divide, I'd class the fans of dynamic typing in the
> "technology" camp and the fans of static typing in the "science"
> camp. The fact that it works in practice is not good enough, since it
> is Ugly and Demonstrably Not Correct. On the other side, we see "it
> works, it has some edge cases where it breaks down horribly run-time,
> but we can and should use the condition-handling system to cope with
> that and it's not that bad anyway, so mostly we can get away with a
> naive approach".

This is a very interesting thought. It looks like you are on to something.

However, I would object to the characterization "break down horribly at
run-time". Dynamically typed languages don't let programs "break down
horribly" (in the sense of producing core dumps). To the contrary, a
condition-handling system can provide you features that might be
_exactly_ what you need, and they do so at no cost whatsoever to the
programmer.

Apart from that, your ideas seem to be a good place to start from.

> Looks like I actually managed to find a real-life use for my
> "philosophy of science" class, even if it wasn't where I expected. :)

Hmm, do you happen to have links or references? I would be interested to
hear more about it.

Pascal

-- 
Pascal Costanza               University of Bonn
mailto:costanza@web.de        Institute of Computer Science III
http://www.pascalcostanza.de  Römerstr. 164, D-53117 Bonn (Germany)