Numeric literal syntax

Steven D'Aprano steven at REMOVE.THIS.cybersource.com.au
Tue Sep 2 08:56:24 CEST 2008


On Mon, 01 Sep 2008 22:11:13 -0700, Dennis Lee Bieber wrote:

> On Tue, 02 Sep 2008 13:51:16 +1000, Ben Finney
> <bignose+hates-spam at benfinney.id.au> declaimed the following in
> comp.lang.python:
> 
>> This is no more the case than for literal strings:
>> 
>> a = "spam" "eggs" "ham"
>> 
>> a = "spam", "eggs", "ham"
>>
>  But... Literal string still have the " (or ') delimiters around the
> components. Such does not exist for you example with integers.
> 
> 	Consider
> 
> a = "spam, eggs", "ham"
> vs
> a = "spam, eggs" "ham"


Quite frankly, I think that it's a stretch to say that leaving out a 
tuple delimiter is a problem with whitespace inside numeric literals. 
That's hardly unique to whitespace:

atuple = 5,6,7,8
vs
atuple = 5,67,8

Look Ma, no whitespace!


But even if allowing whitespace inside numeric literals did create a new 
avenue for errors which never existed before, it is a mistake to only 
consider the downside without the upside. In my opinion, that would be 
rather like declaring that the syntax for attribute access is a mistake 
because you might do this:

x = MyClass()
xy = 4

instead of this:

x = MyClass()
x.y = 4

At some point the programmer has to take responsibility for typos instead 
of blaming the syntax of the language. I agree that we should avoid 
syntax that *encourages* typos, but I don't believe that allowing 
whitespace inside numeric literals does that.



-- 
Steven



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