Python for air traffic control?

Grant Edwards grante at
Tue Jul 3 17:16:45 CEST 2001

In article <bebbba07.0107022044.106d9da8 at>, Russ wrote:

>Just for the record, Mr. Park is publicly posting my private
>replies to him. I guess I should have expected something like
>that from him.

Ignore him.

>I'm sure you all understand that I don't like being called an
>"idiot" for asking a general question about the suitability of
>Python for a certain type of application.

I thought it was a valid and very interesting question.

>You must also understand, of course, that the safety-critical
>application I am referring will not actually be deployed in a
>critical mode for several years at least, during which time it
>will be thoroughly and completely tested. Believe me, I'm
>talking about more testing than you think. It will first be
>used for years as a non-critical back-up for (human)
>controllers before it is ever used as a primary means of
>assuring separation.

My gut feeling is that if the system is done in C or C++ (for
example) it is going to have to use dynamic memory allocation.
Once you've taken that step, I don't think that Python is
inherently more likely to have memory problems, and I think
that Python is inherently _less_ likely to have many other
types of bugs.

If this were a simple, hard-realtime system with response time
requirements in the milliseconds, I'd stay away from Python,
away from C++, and away from dynamic memory allocation.
However, with response time requirements in the hundreds of
milliseconds and a problem domain that probably requires
dynamic memory allocation I think Python would be suitable.

The introspection features could be very useful for automated
testing, as could some simple instrumentation of the memory
management functions.

>> > Which "city am I working at"?  Boy, you really ARE stupid,
>> > aren't you? The GRE score is fact.
>> It would be helpful to me to know which airport you intend to
>> write this Python code for.

Apparently Mr. Park thinks that ATC is a function of local
airports and they each build their own systems.

Grant Edwards                   grante             Yow!  My polyvinyl cowboy
                                  at               wallet was made in Hong
                                 Kong by Montgomery Clift!

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