A bug I found in Python

Tim Peters tim_one at email.msn.com
Sun Mar 30 03:36:56 CEST 2003

[Jp Calderone]
>   I have used Python for many minutes now, but I have recently discovered
some surprising behavior!

I salute you for lasting so long.  Most people give up on Python after a few
seconds.  We appreciate that you took valuable time to inform us of the
language's flaws.  You should stop now, though, lest it consume your life.

>   When I attempt to add two integers together, the result is a third,
> different integer!

Math isn't Guido's stong suit, despite his degrees in the topic.  It might
help to think of Python as doing Dutch Math, where it's often the case that
integers *nobody* has ever seen before pop up out of nowhere, for no reason
at all.  This happens a lot.

>   Here is an example of this surprising behavior:
>       def biffle_buffle_bam(x, y):
>           z = 10
>           print 'Hello world'
>           return anotherFunctionIWrote(x, y)
>       print biffle_bam_baffle(10, -10)
>   As you can clearly see, when this is run, 0 is printed out!
> I think this is very surprising behavior, since I did not type 0
> into my program at all, only 10 and -10.

Yes, it's clearly a bug in Python.  What's happening is that it saw the 0 in
"10", and the zero in "-10", and figured 0 was the most popular digit.   As
is so often the case, Python sacrificed accuracy for popularity.

>   Maybe this is documented somewhere, but I am too busy adding integers
> together by hand to look up the answer.  Maybe if Python were less
> surprising I would not have to do this!

You're absolutely right, and I apologize for the needless pain you've

>   Can anyone explain why this design flaw was placed into Python?

Just a combination of Guido trying to be popular, and, frankly, stupidity.
For the same reason, in

>>> .1

Guido tries to be so popular by printing lots of zeroes that he forgets he
already printed the 1, so prints it again.  It's outrageous.

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