Overloading and? was <RE: Should I prefer an external database>

Ian Bicking ianb at colorstudy.com
Fri Apr 25 07:54:38 CEST 2003

On Fri, 2003-04-25 at 00:11, Andrew Dalke wrote:
> Can that object be saved?  Eg, what does this do?
> class Spam:
>     def __and__(self, other):
>       self.saved = other
>       return other()
> spam = Spam()
> try:
>   a = spam and 1/0:
> except ZeroDivisionError:
>   pass
> spam.saved()

Arrr matey... there be continuations.  Dark waters indeed!

> For some languages, like Smalltalk and Ruby, this makes sense.
> Those languages support code blocks, which can be passed
> around and executed.  But Python does not.

I suspect that in Smalltalk you cannot actually overload and:.  It is a
quiet optimization that Smalltalks do, that turn particular methods into
special bytecode.  Things like ifTrue:ifFalse:, and to:do: are not
compiled to method calls, and I suspect the same is true of and:.  It's
just too inefficient.

I don't actually know how Ruby does and...?  Syntactically distinct like
Python, or as a method call like Smalltalk?  I expect more like
Python... either way I'm sure they all do the same thing deep down.

> Were Python to have code blocks, then it should be applied
> more generally to Python code.  Consider the if/else PEP of
> a couple months ago.  With code blocks, the following would
> be possible
> ifelse(a != 0, 1/a, None)
> which would pass the 1/a and None as independent code
> blocks, to be executed based on the evaluation of a != 0.

Of course, ifelse would be best implemented as a macro, not with code
blocks (which presumably would require some syntax, like 
ifelse(a != 0, `1/a`, `None`)).  Macros are of course compile-time, not
runtime, and Python deliberately does very little of interest during the
compile.  I think there are actually some serious problems introduced
because of its runtime nature, but nevertheless that's how Python is.


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