Straw poll on Python performance (was Re: Python is far from a top performer ...)

Peter Hansen peter at
Fri Jan 9 23:09:37 CET 2004

Iwan van der Kleyn wrote:
> In other words: it would be nice if Python on average would run faster
> so the need for optimisation would lessen. 

I disagree with the above.  My opinion has long been that Python runs 
adequately fast and that few people should need to spend much time on 
optimization.  Maybe that sort of view should be put to the test.

This is my "straw poll" question:

  Do you spend a "significant" amount of time actually optimizing your 
  Python applications?  (Significant is here defined as "more than five
  percent of your time", which is for example two hours a week in a 
  40-hour work week.)

Note the distinction between "actually optimizing" and "worrying about
optimization" and such things.  If you pause briefly during coding and 
rewrite a line to use a more efficient idiom, I don't consider that to be
"optimization" for purposes of this question.  Optimization would require
roughly (a) noticing that performance was inadequate or actual profiling
your code, and (b) rewriting specifically to get adequate performance.
Algorithmic improvements that you would make regardless of implementation
language do not qualify, and wasting time optimizing a script that you
run once a year so it takes ten seconds instead of fifteen also does not
qualify because you certainly didn't need to do it...

Yes or no answers suffice, but feel free to follow up with a paragraph
qualifying your answer (or quantifying it!).  :-)


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