Choosing a programming language as a competitive tool

Andrew Dalke dalke at
Sun May 6 23:36:14 EDT 2001

Alex Martelli:
>Actually, I think the choice of "list" as the name of the Python
>structure is somewhat misleading (and that 'array' or 'vector'
>might have been better), as 'list' mostly means (even in other
>programming communities) something closer to what _Lisp_
>means by it... and, Lisp was there first:-).

Please, not "vector"!  A vector is a measurement with a direction
and a magnitude, as with velocity or force.  Or it's a
coordinate in some space.  When I came across "vector" as
used in computer science I was confused because I thought it
was a way to do vector math.  Even now I still have to look
twice at a library to figure out which use is which.

>  No biggie, but I
>_have_ seen newbies temporarily confused by thinking that
>Python lists were, well, lists, and that there seemed to way to
>have a vector/array...:-).

I can say that I've rarely come across people who've had problems
understanding what is meant by list.  Outside of CS I think
"array" doesn't have a close association to what Python calls
a list.  From my Bartlett's "Familiar Quotations", some of the
uses of array are:

  Battle's magnificently stern array!
             - Byron, "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage"

  My silks and fine array,
             - Blake, "Poetical Sketches"

  And named a trysting day,
  And bade his messages ride forth
  East and west and south and north,
  To summon his array.
             - Macaulay, "Lays of Ancient Rome"

  Where lies the land to which yon ship must go?
  Fresh as a lark mounting at break of day,
  Festively she puts forth in trim array.
             - Wordsworth, "Where List the Land"

  Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
             - Matthew 6:29

(I figured this was more interesting than just quoting the
definition from a dictionary :)

                    dalke at

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