why cannot assign to function call

rurpy at yahoo.com rurpy at yahoo.com
Fri Jan 9 06:56:05 CET 2009

Joe Strout wrote:
> rurpy at yahoo.com wrote:
>> "the same as anyone else's" only if [Python's] "idea
>> of assignment" does not include producing the same
>> results.
>>   a = array (1,2,3)
>>   b = a
>>   a[1] = 4
>>   print b
>> C, C++, VBA, Fortran, Perl:  1, 2, 3
>> Python:  1, 4, 3
> You are mistaken

I don't think so.
See http://groups.google.com/group/comp.lang.python/msg/f99d5a0d8f869b96
The code I quoted there was tested.
In the C/C++ case, array-to-pointer coercion confuses
the issue so I embedded the array in a struct which
is more like an "object".  The assignment semantics are
copy-like producing the results I quoted.  (Keep in mind
my point was not to show the behavior of arrays, but to
show that several common languages *do not* use Python's
"*all* names are references" model -- though of course
this does not preclude their having some Python-like
assignments since they all have some way of doing
references.)  It seems plausible to me that experience
with copy-like assignments semantics in other languages
accounts for the frequent misunderstanding of Python
assignments that is seen on this list.

> (except perhaps in the Fortran case, which is an
> oddball by modern standards, and I don't know Perl well enough to judge).

Whether or not Perl is oddball or modern is irrelevant;
it is still widely used and it is reasonable to assume
that there are a significant number of people coming
to Python with a lot of previous experience with Perl.
Even Fortran is still used in scientific computing circles
(or so I'm told) although I can't say I have seen any
c.l.p. postings from people claiming Python doesn't work
like fortran. :-)

> C/C++ code:
>   int* a = malloc(3);
>   a[0] = 1;
>   a[1] = 2;
>   a[2] = 3;
>   int* b = a;
>   a[1] = 4;
>   print_array(b)
>   ---> Result: 1, 4, 3
> REALbasic code:
>   Dim a() As Integer = Array(1,2,3)
>   Dim b() As Integer = a
>   a(1) = 4
>   PrintArray b
>   --> Result: 1, 4, 3
> VB.NET code would be very similar in syntax, and identical in behavior,
> to the REALbasic code.

Don't know about RealBasic or VB.Net, my experience
and quoted results were from MS Visual Basic for Apps
which is (I think) based on VB6.

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