Typed Python?

Ville Vainio ville at spammers.com
Wed Jul 7 14:08:41 CEST 2004

>>>>> "Jacek" == Jacek Generowicz <jacek.generowicz at cern.ch> writes:

    Jacek> Regarded as such by whom ?

    Jacek> Probably by students who saw lots more job adverts for
    Jacek> Java, C++, VB, COBOL etc. programmers.

Mostly by students, media and "the guys at the internet" ;-). Students
often have some idea of what local companies use at least,
though. ISTR the lecturer didn't disagree either.

    Jacek> You probably regard Forth, Smalltalk (and so on, and so on)
    Jacek> as languages nobody uses, and yet there are people making a

Pretty much, yes. For languages like Smalltalk, "nobody using it" can
be extremely damaging, whereas with languages like Python it wouldn't
matter as much, since the language can be used for scripting. A
scripting language can be sneaked into companies that don't use it
"officially". Apparently the same works for embeddable languages like
Scheme, where the Scheme-lovers are hacking Scheme while the PHB lives
in the oblivious belief that their application is in C++ ;-).

    Jacek> delivering applications in these languages, and I would bet
    Jacek> that they are doing it far more efficiently than all those
    Jacek> who do so in Java, C++ or COBOL ... and are having much
    Jacek> more fun in the process, and are probably getting paid much
    Jacek> more.

The languages you enumerate are irrelevant for this
discussion. Contrast them with Python.

One indicator of the health of the language is the status in the Open
Source community. It's more democratic than the status in the academia
(where one zealous professor can have huge influence). Some snippets from sourceforge.net

       Smalltalk (50 projects)
       Forth (55 projects)
       Scheme (181 projects)
       Lisp (307 projects)
       C# (1602 projects)

       Python (3392 projects)
       Java (12617 projects)
       C (13799 projects)
       C++ (13943 projects)

This alone isn't very interesting - what is interesting that some of
these languages are very old, have had all the time in the world to
gain a strong foothold, have been pushed by industry giants such as
IBM, and now have... 50 projects.

Of course people have jobs using any odd language in the
world. Another thing is whether it pays off for future students to
learn a language that they won't need after that one course, unless
they choose to stay in school & join academia. Some might say that the
time would be better spent by teaching Python instead.

After Programming I course (in Scheme), I still felt that I was a
better C/C++ programmer than Scheme programmer. If the same time was
spent learning Python, my Python skills would quite probably have
exceeded my C/C++ skills and I would still have achieved all the
"pedagogical" aims of the course (there was no macro programming).

I'll say that let them teach Python in the introductory course, and
let the students that have the craving learn Scheme in their own
time. More people would learn more things, and have more fun.

Ville Vainio   http://tinyurl.com/2prnb

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