Python's biggest compromises

Daniel Dittmar daniel.dittmar at
Fri Aug 1 15:09:43 CEST 2003

Michael Hudson wrote:
> <button nature="hot">
> Reference counting *is* a form of garbage collection.
> </button>
> Saying "Ref. counting sucks, let's use GC instead" is a statement near
> as dammit to meaningless.

This statement is not meaningless because most programmers will correctly
identify GC in this context as something like mark-and-sweep, generation
scavenging etc.

see also: DOS sucks, let's use an operating system instead.

> current scheme's biggest drawback is its memory overhead, followed by
> the cache-trashing tendencies of decrefs.

plus it doesn't support independent threads as all reference counting would
have to be protected, leading to poor performance.

But a lot of Python code depends on reference counting or more exactly it
depends on the timely call of the destructor. So even if a much better GC is
added to Python, reference counting would perhaps be kept for backwards
compatibility (see Python's biggest compromises)


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