Flying With Python (Strong versus Weak Typing)

Peter Hansen peter at engcorp.com
Tue Mar 11 15:16:28 CET 2003


Hasoob ahs wrote:
> 
> In an interview at http://www.artima.com/intv/strongweak4.html Guido
> van Rossum was asked if "he would be comfortable enough with the
> robustness of Python systems to fly on an airplane in which ALL the
> control software was written in Python". Guido's answer was clear but
> I would like to hear from other Python programmers.
> Would you be comfortable?. Your answer may help me decide between
> strong and weak typing. I prefer an answer of yes or no followed by an
> explanation.

No simple answer can be truly valid.  For example, I could start off
with "No, because Python cannot be used for hard realtime control and
aeronautical control certainly requires that."

But then again, we could ignore that part of reality and I would
say "Yes, because adequate testing (in this case of the Python 
*interpreter* as well as the application code) and proper design are
sufficient, as has been noted in other responses."

But then I'd have to go and say "No, because I'm actually uncomfortable
with airplane travel (and all other environments involving software 
and the safety of my own life) even as it is, with code written in
languages other than Python, because I *know* what kinds of shortcuts
get taken and what kinds of mistakes get made."

But the most direct answer, though it ignores some key parts of 
reality :-), is "Yes, Python is at least as robust as certain other
languages, such as C, if not more so, *because* is has dynamic
typing and is interpreted and so high level."

-Peter




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