non-owning references?

Terry Reedy tjreedy at
Fri Jul 24 22:57:13 CEST 2009

Steven D'Aprano wrote:
> On Fri, 24 Jul 2009 15:55:45 +0200, Hrvoje Niksic wrote:
>> The term "variable" is used in the Python
>> language reference and elsewhere, and is quite compatible with how other
>> popular languages (Java, PHP, Lisp, ...) use it.  Please stop
>> complaining about valid terminology; it is not helpful.
> No, the use of the single term "variable" to describe two distinct 
> program models is not helpful. Whether other languages muddy the water 
> between memory-location based variables and name-binding is irrelevant to 
> whether we should do so. And quite a few of us are disappointed that the 
> Python language reference should confuse the issue by using misleading 
> terminology.
> Unfortunately, the use of "variable" is so ingrained, and so simple 
> compared to name binding terminology, that I fear we'll never eradicate 
> it. I know sometimes I use it myself, but always with a little shiver of 
> shame that I'm misusing terminology.

Some years ago, I read a claim that 'variable' has about 15 shades of 
meaning in math (some referring to non-variable constants), making it 
probably the most overloaded term in math. I am trying to mostly avoid 
it in the book I am writing.


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