Python future performance and speed

Tim Churches tchur at
Sun Aug 22 06:49:05 CEST 2004

On Sun, 2004-08-22 at 13:59, Paul Rubin wrote:
> aahz at (Aahz) writes:
> > >It seems there are quite a few projects aimed to improve Python's
> > >speed and, therefore, eliminate its main limitation for mainstream
> > >acceptance.
> > 
> > What makes you think speed is Python's primary limitation for mainstream
> > acceptance?
> Well, whenever I want to write a mainstream application and think of
> using Python, my first reaction is that Python is too slow...

As a population health epidemiologist whose stock-in-trade is
manipulation and analysis of large health data sets, I have to say that
Python's run-time speed is almost always much faster than I would have
expected from such a dynamic language, but also almost always much
slower than I would like, especially when compared to widely-used (but
vastly expensive and sprawling) data manipulation environments such as
SAS system (see which is the "industry standard" in
my particular field. However the speed of programme creation with Python
is, in general, outstandingly swift, making it the environment of choice
for one-off tasks. But for routinely-executed jobs which process large
amounts of data, especially for jobs which can't be scheduled to run
overnight, Python is much slower than I would like. Numpy is a godsend
in situations in which it can be used, Psyco helps a lot, I am rapidly
warming to Pyrex (if you'll pardon the pun), and I can't wait to try out
Starkiller. But don't get me wrong: I love Python (which my better half
refers to as "ang babaeng ahas" - the "snake woman" - who has firmly
stolen my affections, or punningly, as "ang asawang sawa" - literally
the "python spouse" but with connotations of "the clinging consort" -
and I was recently much amused when a colleague revealed that she
seriously, albeit momentarily, thought that her object-oriented,
dynamic-language-phile programmer husband was having a torrid
extra-marital affair when she discovered hundreds of email in his in-box
referring to someone called Ruby).

Tim C

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