Case-sensitivity: why -- or why not? (was Re: Damnation!)

Robin Becker robin at
Sun May 21 11:46:44 CEST 2000

In article <cppuqg4hsu.fsf_-_ at>, Guido van
Rossum <guido at> writes
>Yet, here are some of the reasons why I am considering making Python
>(1) Randy Pausch, a professor at CMU, found, when teaching Python to
>non-CS students in the context of Alice (, that the
>number one problem his students were having was to remember that case
>matters in Python.  (The number two problem was 1/2 == 0; there was no
>significalt number three problem.)
>(2) I've met many people who are experienced and accomplished Python
>programmers but who still, when referring to Python modules or
>functions in an informal context (e.g. email), make up their own case
>conventions.  E.g. people will write me about the String module or
>about FTPLib.

This argument is like saying that we should bias the language(s) of
mathematics so first steps in algebra can be more easily taught to non-

I really want to be able to write stuff like

for s in S:

it's often a direct translation of the underlying algorithm.

Please don't take case-sensitivity away.

In addition I would also like 1/2 to remain integer divide. If the
students have problems with 1/2 = 0 aren't they likely to have as much
trouble with the fact that

        1/2. == 0.5 is valid float, but 1/3. isn't ie 3*(1/3.) isn't
exactly representable even though in Python we get 1.0-3*(1/3.)-->0.0
ie allegedly better fp from python16 says that 

        3*0.33333333333333331 == 1.0

The fact is that a lot of simple things are difficult and I think it
foolish to throw away the practice of years in a vain attempt to make
them easy.
Robin Becker

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