Converting Python code to C/C++

Scott David Daniels Scott.Daniels at Acm.Org
Wed Jun 24 12:10:50 EDT 2009

Couper, Tim T wrote:
> ... My experience is that developers who know C and C++ can be productive
> in less than 1 week in python, and find it liberating, and educational, to
> do so. And at the same time they will have added a second language to
> their toolbox. As Kurt points out, learning C/C++ takes considerably
> longer (weeks/months to attain a level of competence). 

Yup.  Remember that "be productive" is not quite the same as "master."
The nice thing is that the mastery comes on a gentle slope, adding to
your productivity without requiring drastic rethinking of all you
understood (as is done to physics students, for example).

> Python is now used in a number of universities as the language in which
> to teach comp sci undergraduate courses (I know of Leeds, & MIT),
> biomathematics, and my daughter just finished her PhD in speech and
> language processing at Edinburgh .. using python and Matplotlib .. as
> the extensive C/C++ libraries in that infomatics world are wrapped in
> python - and the MSc Comp Sci course has replaced Java as the language
> for teaching with Python.

As a data point, Georgia Tech (I believe) had a two-semester Computer
Science intro course in C++.  In introducing a Python intro course, they
provided for a few years both the Python and the C++ first semester,
and kept the C++ second semester.  They found no measurable difference
in the performance on the second course (still in C++) even though the
Python course people had to learn a new language in addition to learning
the rest of the coursework.  The first course is now in Python, since
at the end of the two-semester sequence they know two languages and 
apparently suffer no compensating loss.

--Scott David Daniels
Scott.Daniels at Acm.Org

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