[Python-Dev] Re: [Python-checkins] python/nondist/peps pep-0323.txt, NONE, 1.1 pep-0000.txt, 1.254, 1.255

Alex Martelli aleaxit at yahoo.com
Tue Oct 28 17:29:19 EST 2003

On Monday 27 October 2003 11:45 pm, Raymond Hettinger wrote:
> Excellent PEP!
> Consider adding your bookmarking example.  I found it to be a compelling
> use case.  Also note that there are many variations of the bookmarking
> theme (undo utilities, macro recording, parser lookahead functions,
> backtracking, etc).

I will -- thanks!

> Under drawbacks and issues there are a couple of thoughts:
> * Not all iterators will be copyable.  Knowing which is which creates a
> bit of a usability issue (i.e. the question of whether a particular
> iterator is copyable will come up every time) and a substitution issue
> (i.e. code which depends on copyability precludea substitution of other
> iterators that don't have copyability).

Yes, I'll have to mention that (that the royal road for user code to
access "iterator copying" functionality is via tee() when feasible).

> * In addition to knowing whether a given iterator is copyable, a user
> should also know whether the copy is lightweight (just an index or some
> such) or heavy (storing all of the data for future use).  They should
> know whether it is active (intercepting every call to iter()) or inert.

Heavy copies should be left to 'tee' more often than not.

> * For heavy copies, there is a performance trap when the stored data
> stream gets too long.  At some point, just using list() would be better.

Or saving to disk, beyond a further threshold.

> Consider adding a section with pure python sample implementations for
> listiter.__copy__, dictiter.__copy__, etc.

OK, but some of it's gonna be very-pseudo code (how do you mimic
dictiter's real behaviour in pure Python...?).

> Also, I have a question about the semantic specification of what a copy
> is supposed to do.  Does it guarantee that the same data stream will be
> reproduced?  For instance, would a generator of random words expect its
> copy to generate the same word sequence.  Or, would a copy of a
> dictionary iterator change its output if the underlying dictionary got
> updated (i.e. should the dict be frozen to changes when a copy exists or
> should it mutate).

I'll have to clarify this as for followup discussion on this thread -- 
pseudorandom iterators (I'll give an example) should be copyable and
ensure the same stream from original and copy, real-random iterators
(e.g. from /dev/random) not, iterators on e.g. lists and dicts should not
freeze the underlying contained when copied any more than they do
when first generated (in general if you mutate a dict or list you're
iterating on, Python doesn't guarantee "sensible" behavior...).



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