Python for air traffic control?

Russ 18k11tm001 at sneakemail.com
Thu Jul 5 10:10:47 CEST 2001


"Ken Seehof" <kens at sightreader.com> wrote in message news:<mailman.994201507.10872.python-list at python.org>...
> For liability reasons, I can't give you advice on whether or not to
> use python for an air traffic control application :-)
> 
> However, if I were (hypothetically, of course) to give you advice,
> it would be the following, of which your reading constitutes an
> agreement that I am not responsible for injury, deaths, and property
> damage resulting from that which would be my advice, were it not, 
> if fact, hypothetical, which it is.

If you hear something about an airplane crash in a few years, prepare
for a call from my lawyer. :-)

> Seems to me that python would be a good choice.  You can write
> bugs in any language, including python.  However, python bugs
> tend to be less subtle and easier to detect and fix than C/C++ bugs.
> 
> The lack of type checking and function prototyping is not nearly as
> big of a problem (if it's a problem at all) as C++ programmers tend
> to fear.
> 
> This fear is due to the fact that in some statically typed languages
> such as C++, an undetected type mismatch is likely to cause rather
> horrible bugs which are often intermittent and often corrupt unrelated
> data.
> 
> These kinds of type mismatch bugs that C++ programmers are
> terrified of (memory overwrites, etc.) simply do not exist in python at
> all.  Python doesn't ever need to infer the addresses of bytes of data
> from dubious type information at runtime (as C++ does).  Type
> information is always stored within the objects themselves.
> 
> In python, data of the wrong type is not really any worse than data
> of the wrong value, so these kinds of bugs tend to only have local
> effects which are easily caught when tested.  Not surprisingly, I have
> found that I usually get fewer type related bugs in Python than in C++.
> 
> Saying that python is unreliable because it lacks type checking is like
> saying fish cause pollution because they lack bicycles.
> 
> - Ken

That's very interesting. Thanks for that perspective. I'd like to see
you hash this out with Peter Milliken, who claims that type checking
is essential for safety-critical applications. (Perhaps you did
already. I'm using google groups, and I get very slow updates on this
thread.)

Russ



More information about the Python-list mailing list