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

Ken Tilton kentilton at gmail.com
Sat May 6 03:16:50 CEST 2006

Xah Lee wrote:
> Python, Lambda, and Guido van Rossum
> Xah Lee, 2006-05-05
> In this post, i'd like to deconstruct one of Guido's recent blog about
> lambda in Python.
> In Guido's blog written in 2006-02-10 at
> http://www.artima.com/weblogs/viewpost.jsp?thread=147358
> is first of all, the title “Language Design Is Not Just Solving
> Puzzles”. In the outset, and in between the lines, we are told that
> “I'm the supreme intellect, and I created Python”.
> This seems impressive, except that the tech geekers due to their
> ignorance of sociology as well as lack of analytic abilities of the
> mathematician, do not know that creating a language is a act that
> requires little qualifications. However, creating a language that is
> used by a lot people takes considerable skill, and a big part of that
> skill is salesmanship. Guido seems to have done it well and seems to
> continue selling it well, where, he can put up a title of belittlement
> and get away with it too.
> Gaudy title aside, let's look at the content of his say. If you peruse
> the 700 words, you'll find that it amounts to that Guido does not like
> the suggested lambda fix due to its multi-line nature, and says that he
> don't think there could possibly be any proposal he'll like. The
> reason? Not much! Zen is bantered about, mathematician's impractical
> ways is waved, undefinable qualities are given, human's right brain is
> mentioned for support (neuroscience!), Rube Goldberg contrivance
> phraseology is thrown,

I think this is what you missed in your deconstruction. The upshot of 
what he wrote is that it would be really hard to make semantically 
meaningful indentation work with lambda. Guido did not mean it, but the 
Rube Goldberg slam is actually against indentation as syntax. "Yes, 
print statements in a while loop would be helpful, but..." it would be 
so hard, let's go shopping. ie, GvR and Python have hit a ceiling.

That's OK, it was never meant to be anything more than a scripting 
language anyway.

But the key in the whole thread is simply that indentation will not 
scale. Nor will Python.

> and coolness of Google Inc is reminded for the
> tech geekers (in juxtaposition of a big notice that Guido works
> there.).
> If you are serious, doesn't this writing sounds bigger than its
> content? Look at the gorgeous ending: “This is also the reason why
> Python will never have continuations, and even why I'm uninterested in
> optimizing tail recursion. But that's for another installment.”. This
> benevolent geeker is gonna give us another INSTALLMENT!
> There is a computer language leader by the name of Larry Wall, who said
> that “The three chief virtues of a programmer are: Laziness,
> Impatience and Hubris” among quite a lot of other ingenious
> outpourings. It seems to me, the more i learn about Python and its
> leader, the more similarities i see.
> So Guido, i understand that selling oneself is a inherent and necessary
> part of being a human animal. But i think the lesser beings should be
> educated enough to know that fact. So that when minions follow a
> leader, they have a clear understanding of why and what.

Oh, my, you are preaching to the herd (?!) of lemmings?! Please tell me 
you are aware that lemmings do not have ears. You should just do Lisp 
all day and add to the open source libraries to speed Lisp's ascendance. 
The lemmings will be liberated the day Wired puts John McCarthy on the 
cover, and not a day sooner anyway.

kenny (wondering what to call a flock (?!) of lemmings)

Cells: http://common-lisp.net/project/cells/

"Have you ever been in a relationship?"
    Attorney for Mary Winkler, confessed killer of her
    minister husband, when asked if the couple had
    marital problems.

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