[Python-ideas] syntax for set

Steven D'Aprano steve at pearwood.info
Thu Nov 18 23:50:53 CET 2010

average wrote:

> Truly.  But the point is that the universe will inevitably evolve towards
> elegance.  

"Inevitably"? I think the only think we can say that the universe will 
inevitably evolve towards is a state of maximum entropy. But frankly, I 
don't see the relevance to the future heat death of the universe in 
hundreds of billions of years to Python's syntax.

 > To only "go on with the information it has and the users it has"
> ensures that it remains merely a branch off the trunk of the ideal
> (consequently drawing few new users), that eventually will need either to be
> *deliberately* pruned, or will wither and break off unexpectedly at some
> future point.  Remember, the bulk of new, loyal, users are drawn by an ideal
> (you might remember yourself being among them), not even necessarily by how
> big the library is.

I beg to differ... it seems to me that users are drawn to languages for 
many reasons, and while elegance can be one of them, it is fairly low 
down the list. Why else would C++, VB and PHP be so popular, while 
Haskell and Scheme remain tiny and unpopular (although very influential)?

Besides, how do you define "elegant"? I've heard it said, in full 
seriousness, that BrainF*** is the most elegant language because it is a 
fully Turing-complete language in only six commands (plus two more for IO).

Personally, I see Python as an extremely elegant language, but that 
elegance is tempered by a very strong dose of practicality and realism. 
Gratuitously breaking backwards compatibility just so that there is a 
literal for the empty set is not what I call either practical or realistic.


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