Python "why" questions

Roy Smith roy at
Mon Aug 16 02:59:36 CEST 2010

In article <8crg0eFfbkU1 at>,
 Gregory Ewing <greg.ewing at> wrote:

> Not always -- mathematicians use whatever starting index is
> most convenient for the problem at hand.

Which may be 0, 1, or something else.  There are plenty of situations, 
for example, where you might want to use both positive and negative 
indices.  Which work with Python lists, but not the way a mathematician 
would expect :-)

In general, I've found, "Because that's the way they do it in math", to 
be an unreliable guide to, "How should we do it in a programming 
language?"  It's often a reasonable place to start, but there are other 

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