What about an EXPLICIT naming scheme for built-ins?

Alex Martelli aleaxit at yahoo.com
Wed Sep 8 08:31:34 CEST 2004

Carlos Ribeiro <carribeiro at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Tue, 07 Sep 2004 20:04:57 GMT, Anna Martelli Ravenscroft
> <anna at aleax.it> wrote:
> > I *guess* I had thought of it, if at all, as something similar to
> > int('2') or float(2). They're useful, but only in very limited specific
> > cases. I would have expected list('cat') to force a list out of the
> > string. Just like int() or float() and, well, that's it. That's as far
> > as I would have thought of it as being useful...
> Extending your reasoning a little bit, list(anything) smells a
> typecast -- something that's used to convert a variable of one type
> into a variable of another type. 

I know of no language in which such casts are limited to variables nor
any in which they produce variables: it's always about _expressions_ (in
C terminology, "rvalues" -- can be on the R-ight of the = in an
assignment -- not "lvalues"... can't be on the L-eft ditto).

> But a generator can't be "typecast"
> in my mental model -- it`s not a variable. It is a "program" that
> returns a sequence of values that have to be processed somehow. On the

It's an expression, it's not a variable -- "foo()=23" is incorrect, of
course.  But so is, say, "2+2=23" because 2+2 is also an expression, not
a variable, yet of course something like str(2+2) is fine.  That
erroneous focus on variable rather than expression must matter, then.

> other hand, [x for x in generator()] reads as a description of what is
> getting done -- an algorithm of sorts -- and then it comes up as a
> natural solution for the problem.

Yes, it does read as a loop.  The funny thing is, I haven't seen the
same issues regarding sum(somenumbers()) -- which reads as a function
call, syntactically the same as list(somenumbers()), not as a loop.

> Now I'll admit my ignorance and say that I didn't had the slightest
> idea about what do generator expressions meant until now. I just read
> the PEP, and it`s neat -- but I havent time to figure out the impact
> (remember, I was out of the list over the past year and half :-)

Well, as long as list comprehensions remain side by side with the new
generator comprehensions, the drive to use list comprehensions rather
than other constructs will presumably remain intact.


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