On Fri, Sep 4, 2020, 12:48 Cade Brown <brown.cade@gmail.com> wrote:
I am positing that Python should contain a constant (similar to True, False, None), called Infinity.

It would be equivalent to `float('inf')`, i.e. a floating point value representing a non-fininte value. It would be the positive constant; negative infinity could retrieved via `-Infinity`

Or, to keep float representation the same, the name `inf` could be used, but that does not fit Python's normal choice for such identifiers (but indeed, this is what C uses which is the desired behavior of string conversion)

I think there are a number of good reasons for this constant. For example:
  * It is also a fundamental constant (similar to True, False, and None), and should be representable as such in the language
  * Requiring a cast from float to string is messy, and also obviously less efficient (but this performance difference is likely insignificant)
      * Further, having a function call for something that should be a constant is a code-smell; in general str -> float conversion may throw an error or anything else and I'd rather not worry about that.
  * It would make the useful property that `eval(repr(x)) == x` for floating point numbers (currently, `NameError: name 'inf' is not defined`)

This makes it difficult to, for example, naively serialize a list of floats. For example:

>>> x = [1, 2, 3, 4]
>>> repr(x)
'[1, 2, 3, 4]'
>>> eval(repr(x)) == x
>>> x = [1, 2, 3, float('inf')]
>>> repr(x)
'[1, 2, 3, inf]'
>>> eval(repr(x)) == x
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
  File "<string>", line 1, in <module>
NameError: name 'inf' is not defined

To me, this is problematic; I would expect it to work seamlessly as it does with other floating point constants.

A few rebuttals/claims against:
  - Creating a new constant (Infinity) which is unassignable may break existing code

It will break an ENORMOUS amount of code.  Numpy has its own top-level "inf" variable.  So all code that uses "from numpy import *" will break.  Pylab imports numpy in that way, so "from pylab import *" will also break.  Whether you think this is a good approach or not, a ton of tutorials recommend doing this.  All of those tutorials will break in a way that is very hard to fix.