[Python-3000] PEP 31XX: A Type Hierarchy for Numbers (and other algebraic entities)

Adam Olsen rhamph at gmail.com
Sun Apr 29 02:06:42 CEST 2007

On 4/28/07, Jeffrey Yasskin <jyasskin at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 4/25/07, Jim Jewett <jimjjewett at gmail.com> wrote:
> > On 4/25/07, Jeffrey Yasskin <jyasskin at gmail.com> wrote:
> > >     class MonoidUnderPlus(Abstract):
> >
> > Is this useful?  Just because two things are both Monoid instances
> > doesn't mean I can add them -- they have to be part of the same
> > Monoid.  By the time you do
> >
> >     assert isinstance(a, MonoidUnderPlus)
> >     assert isinstance(b, MonoidUnderPlus)
> >     assert isinstance(a, b.__class__) or isinstance(b, a.__class__)
> >
> > I'm not sure how much you've really saved.
> I brought this up on the PEP 3119 thread, as an issue for
> TotallyOrdered too. The exact syntax for checking that two objects are
> "in the same instance of ABC X" should be decided there.
> As to the benefits of MonoidUnderPlus over just hasattr(a,
> '__plus__'), by knowing that the operation is associative, a function
> may be able to speed itself up. A somewhat academic example is a
> SortedList type:
>   class SortedList(MonoidUnderPlus):
>     def __init__(self, iterable): self.contents = sorted(iterable)
>     def __add__(lhs, rhs): return merge(lhs, rhs)
> Then (ignoring that sum currently requires numbers) we can define mysorted() as:
>   def mysorted(iterable): return sum(map(SortedList, iterable)).contents
> With sum() implemented as a simple for loop, this is insertion sort,
> taking O(n^2) time. However, by noticing that + is associative on its
> argument, sum can be defined (assume the annotation implies the
> appropriate checking) roughly as:
>   def sum(lst : SequenceOfMonoidUnderPlus):
>     if len(lst) == 1: return lst[0]
>     else: return sum(lst[:len(lst)//2]) + sum(lst[len(lst)//2+1:]
> and we've transformed the algorithm into merge sort, taking O(n log n)
> time. (Hm, the zero element isn't as useful here as in other languages
> since you can't get a type without an instance. Maybe it should go
> leave the interface.)
> This optimization is, of course, incorrect if + is not associative.

Unfortunately, such a dramatic performance difference will mean people
will depend on it, then be surprised when it occasionally fails.
Since the original O(n**2) complexity is now perceived as a failure
mode, it's best to split it into an explicit method.

Python does have many optimizations, but they're well hidden, and
rarely if ever result in a noticeable complexity difference.

Adam Olsen, aka Rhamphoryncus

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