why python is slower than java?

Alex Martelli aleaxit at yahoo.com
Sun Nov 7 19:36:09 CET 2004

Roy Smith <roy at panix.com> wrote:

> aleaxit at yahoo.com (Alex Martelli) wrote:
> > file('sorted_autoexec.bak','w').writelines(sorted(file('autoexec.bat')))
> > 
> > 73 chars in one line.  Yeah, I cheated -- I _would_ normally put a space
> > after the comma, making the real total into seventyFOUR...
> I understand what you're doing with the above one-liner, but I don't 
> think that's the best way to write it.  Unless there's some over-riding
> efficiency requirement, I'm always going to vote for easier to read over
> fewer characters.

I agree, and efficiency is just the same if you _do_ give names to
intermediate objects.  Terseness is worthy as long as it _helps_ reading
the code, by avoiding violations of Occam's Razor (introducing entities
without necessity).

> Chaining all those operations together into one big line makes it (IMHO)
> more difficult to understand what's going on, especially since it's a
> mix of method calls and global function calls.  To understand the 
> sequence of operations, you need to read from the inside-out starting
> from two different places, then put those two conceptual units together
> from left-to-right.

It's actually right-to-left, as that's the way the inside-out order
works out.  But if you read left->right, it's "to file
sorted_autoexec.bak, write lines from sorted file autoexec.bat", which
doesn't scan all THAT badly in English, I think;-).  It's right-left if
you think of things HAPPENING, of IMPERATIVE code, but it's not
necessarily that way if you think of the code as descriptive;-).

> You could refactor this in a multitude of ways, with varying levels of
> compactness or verbosity, depending on how many intermediate variables


> you want to use.  I think I would go for something like:
> inFile = file ('autoexec.bat')
> outFile = file ('sorted_autoexec.bak', 'w')
> outFile.writelines (sorted (inFile))
> Some would say that the intermediate variables just add bulk, but I 
> think they provide conceptual punctuation, i.e. a place for the reader
> to say, "OK, I understand that chunk, now let's see what the next chunk
> does".

My preference here might be to have a name for the output file variable
and not for the input one, but that's a pretty thin consideration.  Your
version lets one close both files explicitly, which is good.

> > one can almost see you writing it with a quill dipped in
> > ink, at a carved oak desk, on your steam-powered computer.  Charming!
> > 
> > Should you ever decide to move into the 21st century, though, don't
> > worry: Python will be there to help you do so.
> I know you didn't write those lines with me in mind, but I can't help
> chuckle over them.  I'm tagged as a luddite by my co-workers because I
> still don't have a cell phone or a palm pilot or an MP-3 player, not to
> mention that I know what the program drum is used for on an 029 card 
> punch.  I am however typing this from my wireless PowerBook :-)

Heh -- you're a notch up from me, since the wireless Mac laptop I'm
using is a humble iBook 12";-).


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