[Python-Dev] Re: PendingDeprecationWarning

Tim Peters tim.one@comcast.net
Wed, 29 May 2002 19:47:43 -0400

[Fran=E7ois Pinard]
> ...
> Hi there!  I could probably debug an octal dump even today, the CPU=
> are rather easy to remember :-).  Many members of the PDP series we=
re also
> favouring octal.  Isn't the Cray which was using a mix of hexadecim=
al and
> octal in dumps (or do I mix it with something else)?

The early Cray software used only octal, since everyone there came fr=
om CDC,
and loved octal from 60-bit words, 18-bit address registers, and 6-bi=
characters (<http://www.cwi.nl/~dik/english/codes/intern.html>).  Oct=
proved surprisingly pleasant for 64-bit words too!  It left the sign =
bit off
by itself in the 22nd octal digit, and it was said that Seymour made =
exponent field in Cray floats 15 bits wide so that it would be easy t=
o read
off from octal dumps too.

Octal was so deeply ingrained in Cray culture that a coworker filled =
out her
timesheet in octal once, 10 hours per day for her 2-week vacation, su=
to 120 hours.  Our boss signed off on it because it looked fine to hi=
This is the same boss who loved to tell the story of taking his famil=
y out
for a drive, and excitedly exclaiming "Hey, kids!  Look!!  The odomet=
er is
about to flip over to 40000!".  Of course it read 37777 at the time, =
when it flipped to 37778 "they looked at me funny, and my family life=
never the same again".

Then Cray hired a bunch of young crybabies (like me), who-- with some
justification --pointed out that octal dumps were really hard to scan=
character data, given that Cray had moved to 8-bit characters.

> But this is history.

It doesn't have to be.   Unicode surely has nothing going for it over=
Display Code <wink>.

> I would prefer decimal everywhere nowadays.  Too bad that Unicode p=
> so strongly on hexadecimal, this is a bit anachronical.

I suggested to Guido today that we deprecate decimal literals in Pyth=
on, in
favor of octal everywhere.  A killer advantage is that every binary
floating-point number can be printed exactly with a few dozen octal d=
and that should squash a lot of newbie complaints about confusing
floating-point rounding errors.

it's-all-about-doing-what's-best-for-the-children-ly y'rs  - tim