A critic of Guido's blog on Python's lambda

Bill Atkins NOatkinwSPAM at rpi.edu
Sat May 6 10:22:02 CEST 2006

aleaxit at yahoo.com (Alex Martelli) writes:

> Ken Tilton <kentilton at gmail.com> wrote:
>    ...
>> > Absolutely.  That's why firms who are interested in building *seriously*
>> > large scale systems, like my employer (and supplier of your free mail
>    ...
>> > Obviously will not scale.  Never.
>> > 
>> > Well... hardly ever!
>> You are talking about being incredibly popular. I was talking about 
> Who, me?  I'm talking about the deliberate, eyes-wide-open choice by
> *ONE* firm -- one which happens to more or less *redefine* what "large
> scale" computation *means*, along many axes.  That's got nothing to do
> with Python being "incredibly popular": it has everything to do with
> scalability -- the choice was made in the late '90s (and, incidentally,
> by people quite familiar with lisp... no less than the reddit.com guys,
> you know, the ones who recently chose to rewrite their side from Lisp to
> Python...?), based on scalability issues, definitely not "popularity"
> (Python in the late '90s was a very obscure, little-known language).
>> kenny (who is old enough to have seen many a language come and go)
> See your "many a language" and raise you one penny -- besides sundry
> Basic dialects, machine languages, and microcode[s], I started out with
> Fortran IV and APL, and I have professionally programmed in Pascal (many
> dialects), Rexx, Forth, PL/I, Cobol, Lisp before there was a "Common"
> one, Prolog, Scheme, Icon, Tcl, Awk, EDL, and several proprietary 3rd
> and 4th generation languages -- as well of course as C and its
> descendants such as C++ and Java, and Perl. Many other languages I've
> studied and played with, I've never programmed _professionally_ (i.e.,
> been paid for programs in those languages), but I've written enough
> "toy" programs to get some feeling for (Ruby, SML, O'CAML, Haskell,
> Snobol, FP/1, Applescript, C#, Javascript, Erlang, Mozart, ...).
> Out of all languages I know, I've deliberately chosen to specialize in
> Python, *because it scales better* (yes, functional programming is
> _conceptually_ perfect, but one can never find sufficiently large teams
> of people with the right highly-abstract mathematical mindset and at the
> same time with sufficiently down-to-earth pragmaticity -- so, for _real
> world_ uses, Python scales better). When I was unable to convince top
> management, at the firm at which I was the top programmer, that the firm
> should move to Python (beyond the pilot projects which I led and gave
> such stellar results), I quit, and for years I made a great living as a
> freelance consultant (mostly in Python -- once in a while, a touch of
> Pyrex, C or C++ as a vigorish;-).
> That's how come I ended up working at the firm supplying your free mail
> (as Uber Tech Lead) -- they reached across an ocean to lure me to move
> from my native Italy to California, and my proven excellence in Python
> was their prime motive. The terms of their offer were just too
> incredible to pass by... so, I rapidly got my O1 visa ("alien of
> exceptional skills"), and here I am, happily ubertechleading... and
> enjoying Python and its incredibly good scalability every single day!
> Alex

How do you define scalability?

This is a song that took me ten years to live and two years to write.
 - Bob Dylan

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