pairs from a list

Steven D'Aprano steven at
Wed Jan 23 07:39:26 CET 2008

On Tue, 22 Jan 2008 18:32:22 -0800, George Sakkis wrote:

> The OP didn't mention anything about the context; for all we know, this
> might be a homework problem or the body of a tight inner loop. There is
> this tendency on to assume that every optimization question is
> about a tiny subproblem of a 100 KLOC application. Without further
> context, we just don't know.

Funny. As far as I can tell, the usual assumption on is that every 
tiny two-line piece of code is the absolute most critically important 
heart of an application which gets called billions of times on petabytes 
of data daily.

Given the human psychology displayed involved, in the absence of 
definitive evidence one way or another it is a far safer bet to assume 
that people are unnecessarily asking for "the fastest" out of a misguided 
and often ignorant belief that they need it, rather than the opposite. 
People who actually need a faster solution usually know enough to preface 
their comments with an explanation of why their existing solution is too 
slow rather than just a context-free demand for "the fastest" solution.

Fast code is like fast cars. There *are* people who really genuinely need 
to have the fastest car available, but that number is dwarfed by the vast 
legions of tossers trying to make up for their lack of self-esteem by 
buying a car with a spoiler. Yeah, you're going to be traveling SO FAST 
on the way to the mall that the car is at risk of getting airborne, sure, 
we believe you.

(The above sarcasm naturally doesn't apply to those who actually do need 
to travel at 200mph in a school zone, like police, taxi drivers and stock 


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