[Edu-sig] RE: Integration correction

Lloyd Hugh Allen chandrakirti at gmail.com
Wed Mar 30 16:27:22 CEST 2005

If I can toss in one (okay, two) more thought/s (and then I'll go back
to llurking again), I particularly remember a java exercise in which
the instructor gave us a handful of (intentionally!) black-box
functions along with the arguments that they take and the outputs that
they gave. We were to string these functions together into a working
pong program. We were able to do this (in java! after two
weeks!--could do it in Python on the second day then) fairly
successfully, and so we were happy because we made a working program
without knowing much.

In the same way, I often use the random library, but haven't even
vaguely considered looking at its inner mechanics (although my
students claim, when I use a short routine to pick who goes to the
board, that they feel that it favors particular spots in the list of
students...I think that that's just their paranoia speaking, but I
probably should examine the code at some point anyway). For me to
understand each library...for that matter, have you ever made the
mistake of hitting "step" from the IDLE debugger on a print line?
There's already hella stuff under the hood.

Finally, I'll invoke the mantra (again from math education) that all
math (/coding) is either trivial or impossible. Problems (or ideas or
structures) begin as impossible; then, once comprehension is attained,
they are trivial. If it makes you feel better, Art, I blinked and so
don't know what this decorator thing is of which you speak (maybe it
was in one of those annoyingly long threads that I archived without
reading). Don't worry--I'll look up decorators myself--but that you
know what a decorator is puts you on a higher level of comprehension
than at least one person.

But again, the beauty of oop is that you don't need to look under the
hood until you actually want to. But that the ability is
(theoretically) there once you do have the desire.

I fear that I may be contributing to one of those annoyingly long
threads that I archive without reading. Oops. Sorry.


On Wed, 30 Mar 2005 09:11:18 -0500, David Handy <david at handysoftware.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Mar 30, 2005 at 07:15:58AM -0500, Arthur wrote:
> > What I can't and don't understand - as a 'radial" - was why those who
> > purport to most appreciate Python as it is would sign in mass unto an
> > endeavor which could foreseeable alter what it is and how it is used in
> > dramatic ways, and do so irretrievably.
> I'll try and answer that one.
> When I learned Python version 1.5.2 back in March of 1999, six years ago, I
> already had a lot of experience programming in C, C++, Pascal, Perl, etc.
> Learning Python made me a better programmer. Object-oriented programming
> concepts that were obscure in C++ became so much clearer in Python, with
> it's "everything is an object" and "first-class functions and classes." I
> took that philosophy and began writing better C++ code.
> But it didn't stop there. After I thoroughly learned Python 1.5.2, it
> evolved. It got generators and iterators, and I learned those too. By this
> time I was programming C# and Java. The new things I learned from Python
> 2.2+ made me a better C# and Java programmer.
> In 2004 I started using list comprehensions and generator expressions and
> the more accessible features of new-style classes, including properties and
> cooperative superclasses. All of these things made my life better.
> In 2005 (so far) I've now understood descriptors and how they can help me.
> Metaclasses are next on my list.  And with every mind-expanding step I've
> become a better Java programmer. Even though Java doesn't have Python's
> features, those "patterns", when learned first in Python, really help.
> I feel like I'm water skiing, and Python is an intellectual power-boat
> towing me along.
> Perhaps you're saying "the boat's going too fast, I want to get off". Well,
> you may have that luxury, but I don't. I make my *living* doing this stuff.
> My wife and four hungry children depend on me keeping up with the
> world-class state of the art. If I were to decide that I've had enough, my
> brain is full, then I might as well find another line of work.
> Certainly I have an interest in Python code remaining accessible to
> entry-level programmers. I am not an elitist. But advanced Python features
> have made advanced programming accessible to *me*, when otherwise I might
> not have gotten into it, due to lack of time and perceived barriers to
> entry.
> I believe Python offers a lot to programmers at every level. The good old
> Python 1.5.2 feature set is still great for beginners, and that's the
> feature set I teach to beginners. But there is no limit to how far you can
> go in Python. If I taught beginners using, say, Visual Basic, I'm putting a
> ceiling over their heads. Python scales conceptually.
> And that's my 2 cents.
> David H.
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