Python advocacy in scientific computation

sturlamolden sturlamolden at
Sun Mar 5 19:30:53 CET 2006

Robert Kern wrote:

> 1. Write grant proposals.
> 2. Advise and teach students.

Sorry I forgot the part about writing grant applications. As for
teaching students, I have thankfully not been bothered with that too

> Yes, and this is why you will keep saying, "My simulation is running too
> slowly," and "My simulation is running out of memory." All the vectorization you
> do won't make a quadratic algorithm run in O(n log(n)) time. Knowing the right
> algorithm and the right data structures to use will save you programming time
> and execution time. Time is money, remember, and every hour you spend tweaking
> Matlab code to get an extra 5% of speed is just so much grant money down the drain.

Yes, and that is why I use C (that is ISO C99, not ANSI C98) instead of
Matlab for everything except trivial tasks. The design of Matlab's
language is fundamentally flawed. I once wrote a tutorial on how to
implement things like lists and trees in Matlab (using functional
programming, e.g. using functions to represent list nodes), but it's
just a toy. And as Matlab's run-time does reference counting insted of
proper garbage collection, any datastructure more complex than arrays
are sure to leak memory (I believe Python also suffered from this as
some point). Matlab is not useful for anything except plotting data
quickly. And as for the expensive license, I am not sure its worth it.
I have been considering a move to Scilab for some time, but it too
carries the burden of working with a flawed language.

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