[Python-Dev] Re: collections module

Paul Moore pf_moore at yahoo.co.uk
Mon Jan 12 14:26:19 EST 2004

Guido van Rossum <guido at python.org> writes:

> [Raymond Hettinger]
>> > I am frankly surprised that so many here think that a collections
>> > module would be bad for the language.
>> I think the "fast implementation" issue has triggered people's
>> comments, rather than the "higher level tools" one.
> I may be the source of some of this kind of feedback.  My main concern
> is that when we offer too many fast (*fast*!) data types competing
> with list and dict, inexperienced users will more easily be mislead
> into picking the wrong data type for their application, simply by the
> overwhelming choices.  Something that advertises itself as *fast*! is
> incredibly attractive to many people who have absolutely no need for
> it -- just like automobiles that can go several times the speed limit.

Agreed. I think that simply creating a module called "collections",
advertised as containing "a variety of data structures designed to
handle collections of data" should be enough. Low-key enough to avoid
being an attractive nuisance, accurately-named enough that people
should find it easily enough if they need it. Add an "efficiency"
section to the documentation, if it matters that much (and if so, I'd
suggest that memory use be addressed as well as speed...)

In my experience, though (assuming I classify in the not-newbie-but-
not-expert-either category...), I prefer data types built into the
language over ones in modules, unless there is a clear need to go
further. For example, the mere fact that re is a module persuades me
to save it for cases where it's really needed - I use string methods
like startswith and find much more than I ever would in Perl, where
REs are built in. This is a good thing - REs are too much of an
"attractive nuisance" in Perl. I'd expect the same to be true with the
collections module. I'd tend to use lists and dictionaries as my first
choice, saving collections for cases where I really need them. So, if
my perception is typical, I don't think there will be that big an

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