Typed Python?

Ville Vainio ville at spammers.com
Wed Jul 7 19:15:40 CEST 2004

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

    >> Smalltalk (50 projects)
    >> Forth (55 projects)
    >> Scheme (181 projects)


    Jacek> Let's do this exercise again when Java reaches the age of
    Jacek> Lisp. My prediction is that Lisp will still be there, while
    Jacek> Java, C++ and C# will not. I rate Smalltalk's chances of
    Jacek> still being there at that time

Java is the Cobol of modern times, so I believe Java will be around
(in the same despised legacy role as Cobol now).

    Jacek> What they will need in the future, depends on what they
    Jacek> choose to do in the future. If they want to be Java
    Jacek> monkeys, then they should not bother with Scheme. If they
    Jacek> want to be highly skilled programmers, then Scheme is a
    Jacek> vastly superior choice to Java (and even Python).

So you think this one course will determine the future of the
students' careers? You sure exhibit a strong confidence in
education. I tend to believe that "highly skilled programmers" are
born with a certain mindset, and there is only so much school can do. 

If the school churns out a succesful Java monkey with good grasp of
software architecture, project management issues etc. the school
should be considered to have succeeded in its mission. Java monkeys
pay the taxes, which support the universities.

    >> 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

    Jacek> That may be. But the chances are that you were a better
    Jacek> _programmer_ than you would otherwise have been. (But this

I don't think so. In fact I only grasped what is so great about Lisp
much much later. The course was a worthless distraction, which would
not have been so worthless if it was in Python.

    >> and I would still have achieved all the "pedagogical" aims of the
    >> course

    Jacek> I doubt it. But that's just my opinion. And it all depends
    Jacek> on the sort of person/programmer you are.

The only thing I learned was doing functional programming, handy ways
to use recursion etc (using set! was forbidden in the excercises). I
could have learned the same things with Python. And I don't think I
"missed" anything, got perfect score and generally considered the
course trivial.

    Jacek> types of people emerging: those who will become Java
    Jacek> monkeys, and those who will become skilled programmers. If
    Jacek> you fall into the latter category, then teaching you in
    Jacek> Python rather than Scheme would have been a great service
    Jacek> to you; if you fall into the former category then it would
    Jacek> probably have been a great disservice to you.

Here I disagree. Most students *will* become Java monkeys, project
managers or whatever. Doing a service for them is a sensible thing to
do, statistically. Not teaching something to would-be skilled
programmers is not a major disservice, because they probably know more
/ as much as their lecturers anyway.

Sometimes it seems as if academics are trying to make programming
appear more theoretical or difficult than it actually is. Programming
is a thing that a child can learn, which might be slightly
embarrassing to some professors...

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

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