Generator expressions v/s list comprehensions

Michael J. Fromberger Michael.J.Fromberger at Clothing.Dartmouth.EDU
Tue Aug 31 01:58:29 CEST 2004

In article <1gjbs1e.assxlxlud1m0N%aleaxit at>,
 aleaxit at (Alex Martelli) wrote:

> Mahesh Padmanabhan <mahesh at> wrote:
> > 
> > I just wish that generator expressions had been designed into the 
> > language without going the way of list comprehension -> generator 
> > expressions.
> It would sure be nice if Python had been born back from day one with all
> the neat features it has taken years to develop -- that way we wouldn't
> have any issues that are there just because of backwards compatibility.
> Unfortunately, this wish is totally unrealistic -- obviously people do
> come up with cool ideas such as the iterator protocol, and generators,
> after the language has been around for a while.  

All the cool features Python has adopted existed a long time before they 
made their way into Python itself.  As I see it, the real issue with 
taking up new language features is that the vast majority of work-a-day 
programmers seem to be highly reticent to embrace new tools and ideas, 
for one reason or another.  I think this explains -- among other things 
-- the lingering popularity of languages like BASIC (in its various 
incarnations), and Fortran.

In fact, one of the things I love most about Python, both the language 
and the community surrounding it, is that here, for the first time, we 
see a large community of mainstream programmers who are ready, willing, 
and able to adapt to new ideas without losing their heads and retreating 
into the ostensibly safe and comfortable world of linear imperative 
programming.  Instead of insisting everybody forget what they know and 
start over, however, Python gives us the old familiar stuff, too, and 
the new ideas come in a little at a time.

Frankly, I think if the Lisp world had managed to build the same 
friendly and welcoming community Python seems to have, it would have 
taken over the world a quarter-century ago.


Michael J. Fromberger             | Lecturer, Dept. of Computer Science  | Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA

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