[Python-ideas] syntax for set

Boris Borcic bborcic at gmail.com
Mon Nov 22 19:47:42 CET 2010

average wrote:

> Well, you certainly have the issue of momentum for one part of the
> explanation.  Many are not willing do ditch their old toolset even when
> a better one is presented.

So the real issue is the order in which toolsets get presented to newcomers to 
the field.

> The other is that the most elegant languages
> are sometimes those understood by the fewest....
>     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).
> I can define it quite succinctly:  Komolgorov semantic density.  Each
> element of syntax of a language can be seen as a condensing down to its
> Kolmolgorov ideal the tightest expression of a common programmatic
> need.

An experience that early computers provided to programmers was that of having to 
save on code size because memory was too tight; and a lesson from that 
experience is that gains in information density of code have less to do with 
local optimization of expressions than with global optimizations in the sense of 
finding ways to fold apparently different code execution paths into variants of 
the same.

IOW, algorithmic information density is concept overkill, when arguing about the 
standard representation of empty collections factory calls.

And as far as elegance is concerned, I am in fact tempted to argue that the call 
syntax in list(), set() and dict() has over [] and {} the virtuous side-effect 
of reminding the reader that a distinct empty collection is made at each call, 
despite the invariability of the expression.

Cheers, BB

  Completeness is a necessary but insufficient condition (so
> BrainFuck is out of the question).
>     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.
> The breaking of backwards compatibility is in no way gratuitous.  It may
> be demolishing of a long-standing local-maxima, but hardly gratuitous.
> Just a few ideas, nothing I'm trying to make a religious war on...
> marcos
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