Rationale for core Python numeric types

Dave Brueck dave at pythonapocrypha.com
Thu Jun 17 17:30:31 CEST 2004


Matt wrote:
> I'm new to Python, and was somewhat taken aback to discover that the
> core language lacks some basic numerical types (e.g., single-precision
> float, short integers). I realize that there are extensions that add
> these types-- But what's the rationale for leaving them out? Have I
> wandered into a zone in the space/time continuum where people never
> have to read binary data files?

The struct module is the most common way of reading/writing binary files.
For complex structures stored in files I sometimes use ctypes.

As for the rationale nehind not having types like 'short', 'long', etc. I
can only guess - perhaps the reasons include (1) their presence in a
language encourages programmers to worry about details they usually don't
need to be burdened with and (2) for many (most?) cases, you're really
talking about marshalling data - an OS API takes a short int, a file header
has an unsigned long, a network message requires a byte for bit fields,
etc. - and the problem of data marshalling doesn't necessarily need to be
tied that closely to the numeric types of the language. Again, these are
just my guesses...

-Dave





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