about sort and dictionary

Magnus Lycka lycka at carmen.se
Thu Nov 24 11:37:32 CET 2005

Alex Martelli wrote:

> I think you mean volatile or mutable rather than transient?  "transient"
> is not a keyword in C++, while both volatile and mutable are, with
> different semantics.  Anyway, C++'s 'const' is a mess both theoretical
> AND practical.  I'm told Ruby's "object-freezing" works better (but I
> have no practical experience).

Right, volatile it is. It's really great that I can program so much
Python now that I forget my C++! :) Thanks Alex (both for reminding me
of forgotten C++ syntax and for making Python better).

>>Perhaps we need a.reverse? for just-mutating-a-little reverse as well?
> I don't see the alleged humor in this ill-defined concept. 

I've run into a lot of cases where things are conceptually non-mutating,
but in implementation, there are lots of internal state changes. For
instance, we can imagine lazy get methods (or why not attributes) for 
database access. From the users perspective, it might not matter when
things are actually fetched from the database if the Python code looks
like this:

p = myDB.getPerson(person_id) # Perhaps fetch here.
print p.name                  # Or fetch here.

It's pretty common that we avoid fetching stuff from a database until
we really need it, so accessing p.name, might well be the event that
triggers fetching all the relevant columns in the person-table for
key value person_id. That technically mutates p, but does the user
of p need to be aware of that? Maybe, maybe not. I guess it depends.
How are transactions and multi user issues handled? Will p.name lock
a database row?

While simple "warning signs" might be useful at times, I find that
the devil is in the details, and most programming problems are too
subtle to be described with an exclamation mark.

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