[Python-Dev] Ph.D. dissertation ideas?

Dennis Allison allison at shasta.stanford.edu
Mon Jan 16 05:29:12 CET 2006

On Thu, 12 Jan 2006, Brett Cannon wrote:

> It is time once again in my educational career to come to python-dev
> for help for major project ideas.  This time, though, it is for my
> Ph.D. dissertation (and thus can have larger scope than my masters
> thesis) but there are funding restrictions (and thus only certain
> areas I have possible funding for).
> First off, there are two areas where I have possible funding: XML
> integration into programming languages and game scripting support (I
> have a third, AOP for anything, but  I don't think AOP is a good match
> for Python and thus not considering it for Python work).  The XML
> integration I have no direct ideas since I don't use XML.  There is
> the possibility of doing something like the LINQ project
> (http://msdn.microsoft.com/netframework/future/linq/default.aspx?pull=/library/en-us/dndotnet/html/linqprojectovw.asp)
> or something, but I don't know how useful that could be.  It would
> have to be just as generic, though, as the LINQ project in terms of
> working with intefaces to be Pythonic so it might turn out to be more
> about language support for querying data.
> For the game scripting, trying out the active objects for Python is a
> possibility (or something else that would help with concurrency). 
> Since that could allow for agent objects to be more concurrent it can
> be argued that it would help with game scripting.  I don't have any
> other ideas for the area of game scripting support.


Financial considerations aside, neither of the ideas you mention see ready
to be a dissertation topic.  I'd encourge you to look to other topics.

You might research interpreter structures for languages like Python which
do not use a global interpreter lock (GIL).  There's been discussion about
this from time to time on this list, even some suggestions as to what
might be done.  Given the trend toward multi-core processors, Python would
benefit if all processors did not need to block on the GIL. Guido told me
once that someone had build a Python interpreter with multiple locks, but
that the peformance was not very good and that the interpreter was
fragile.  This is, of course, a hard problem.

In 1974, Dijkstra wrote a fascinating paper on self-stabalizing 
algorithms; since that time a considerable literature has grown up.

Managing a Python system these days is a management problem when the
standard system is extended with libraries from many different sources,
each with different release schedules, dependencies, compatibilities, and 
documentation.  Automating the management of Python and its libraries 
might make a good dissertation topic, particualarly if there is some 
advice giving system that helps find an appropriate library for a 
particular problem.

Testing, optimization, refactopring tools, etc.

Dave Altel, following others, suggested in a provacatively title talks--


More information about the Python-Dev mailing list