Where is the syntax for the dict() constructor ?!

Alex Martelli aleax at mac.com
Fri Jul 6 05:19:23 CEST 2007

Neil Cerutti <horpner at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Besides, a string is an excellent epresentation for a zip code,
> since arithmetic upon them is unthinkable.

Absolutely!  Excel, unless you remedied that later with a column
operation, would turn some East Coast zipcodes into 3- and 4-digit
numbers (dropping the leading 0s), exactly because it's so obtuse as to
try to "treat as numbers" entries that are all-digits.

Funny enough, that very issue took at least 5 minutes of lecture time at
a recent lecture in a course on "statistical approaches to data mining"
that I'm following (hopefully it will turn to slightly more advanced
issues soon:-): Excel (!) and R are the two "recommended" programs for
the course, and substantial parts of the lecture times so far have been
spent illustrating various foibles of each.  Still, another guy who's
taking the class had a funny and relevant war story: at one point a
company he was working for did a mass mailing (paper mail)... and big
bag of the mails was returned as undeliverable by a pretty peeved US
Post Office... the "mail merge" they had done apparently involved Excel
(or some other spreadsheet program) at some point, and many East Coast
zipcodes had indeed been truncated (which messes with USPO's automatic
system and thus is NOT tolerated, at least in bulk mail)...!-)


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