python simply not scaleable enough for google?

Paul Boddie paul at
Tue Nov 17 16:53:55 CET 2009

On 17 Nov, 14:48, Aaron Watters <aaron.watt... at> wrote:
> ... and I still have an issue with the whole "Python is slow"
> meme.  The reason NASA doesn't build a faster Python is because
> Python *when augmented with FORTRAN libraries that have been
> tested and optimized for decades and are worth billions of dollars
> and don't need to be rewritten* is very fast.

That's why I wrote that Python's "extensibility using C, C++ and
Fortran [has] helped adoption of the language considerably", and
Python was particularly attractive to early adopters of the language
precisely because of the "scripting" functionality it could give to
existing applications, but although there are some reasonable
solutions for writing bottlenecks of a system in lower-level
programming languages, it can be awkward if those bottlenecks aren't
self-contained components or if the performance issues permeate the
entire system.


> And when someone implements a Mercurial replacement in GO (or C#
> or Java) which is faster and more useful than Mercurial, I'll
> be very impressed.  Let me know when it happens (but I'm not
> holding my breath).

Mercurial is a great example of a Python-based tool with good
performance. However, it's still interesting to consider why the
implementers chose to rewrite precisely those parts that are
implemented using C. I'm sure many people have had the experience of
looking at a piece of code and being quite certain of what that code
does, and yet wondering why it's so inefficient in vanilla Python.
It's exactly this kind of issue that has never really been answered
convincingly, other than claims that "Python must be that dynamic and
no less" and "it's doing so much more than you think", leaving people
to try and mitigate the design issues using clever implementation
techniques as best they can.

> By the way if it hasn't happened and if he isn't afraid
> of public speaking someone should invite Matt Mackall
> to give a Python conference keynote.  Or how about
> Bram Cohen for that matter...

Bryan O'Sullivan gave a talk on Mercurial at EuroPython 2006, and
although I missed that talk for various reasons beyond my control, I
did catch his video lightning talk which emphasized performance.
That's not to say that we couldn't do with more talks of this nature
at Python conferences, however.


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