reduce()--what is it good for?

Anton Vredegoor anton at
Sat Nov 8 19:29:26 CET 2003

Alex Martelli <aleaxit at> wrote:

>I will gladly concede that reduce IS hard to beat if your purpose is to
>write complex, brittle, hard-to-maintain code.

Answering in the same vein I could now concede that you had
successfully distracted from my suggestion to find a better example in
order to demonstrate the superiority of recursive techniques over
iterative solutions in programming memoization functions.

However I will not do that, and instead concede that my code is often
"complex, brittle, hard-to-maintain". This probably results from me
being Dutch, and so being incapable of being wrong, one has to mangle
code (and speech!) in mysterious ways in order to simulate mistakes.

I'd like to distance myself from the insinuation that such things
happen on purpose. It was not necessary to use reduce to show an
iterative memoization technique, but since the thread title included
reduce I felt compelled to use it in order to induce the reader to
find a better example of recursive functions that memoize and which
cannot be made iterative.

This would generate an important precedent for me because I have
believed for a long time that every recursive function can be made
iterative, and gain efficiency as a side effect.

By the way, there is also some other association of reduce besides the
one with functional programming. Reductionism has become politically
incorrect in certain circles because of its association with
neopositivism and behavioristic psychology. 

I would like to mention that there is also a phenomenological
reduction, which contrary to neopositivistic reduction does not try to
express some kind of transcendental idealism, in which the world would
be made transparent in some light of universal reason. Instead it
tries to lead us back to the world and the concrete individual
properties of the subjects under discussion.


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