(and scheme lisp) x Python and modern langs [was Re: gossip, Guy Steel, Lojban, Racket]

namekuseijin namekuseijin at gmail.com
Wed Sep 29 20:02:03 CEST 2010

On 28 set, 19:38, Xah Lee <xah... at gmail.com> wrote:
> • “list comprehension” is a very bad jargon; thus harmful to
> functional programing or programing in general. Being a bad jargon, it
> encourage mis-communication, mis-understanding.

I disagree:  it is a quite intuitive term to describe what the
expression does.

> • “list comprehension” is a redundant concept in programing. The
> concept is of historical interest. e.g. when people talk about the
> history of computer languages. The LC can simply be filter(map(func,
> list), predicate).

I agree it is redundant.  Like pretty much all syntax:  all one needs
is a way to define functions and to apply function to arguments (or
assignment and pre-defined loops for imperative folks).  Syntax may
still be more convenient, though.

Which is strange since you were an ardent syntax lover a few
iterations ago.

> • The special syntax of “list comprehension” as it exists in many
> langs, are not necessary. It can simply be a plain function, e.g
> LC(function, list, filter).

I disagree.  Syntax may be redundant, but it is there to be

I'll quote it again:
"For instance, this is far more convenient:
[x+1 for x in [1,2,3,4,5] if x%2==0]
than this:
map(lambda x:x+1,filter(lambda x:x%2==0,[1,2,3,4,5]))

but on the other hand, this is more convenient:

(ignoring the lines of code for inc and evenp, of course.  But as
as they are used in many parts, it *is* more convenient)

In short, list comprehensions are useful syntatic expressions
returning lists as long as you don't care for the short functions
in them."

> «do syntax does allow for imperative commands to be issued in scheme,
> just like let.  It does not mean it was used in said examples nor that
> do is automatically inherently imperative just because of choice of
> name.  imperative do -> (do (steppers ...) (final-condition? result)
> malign-imperative-code-here ...)»
> i don't think your argument is forceful enough.
> It appears that by this argument you even say that “let” is not
> functional.

In the case of Lisps, it depends on context:  let is an expression
returning a value, but Lisps are not purely functional languages and
you *may* use imperative statements in the body, resulting in useful
side-effect computations.

That's why I said do is no more imperative than let:  1) because it
*is* let and 2) because Lisps *allow* imperative constructs in the
body of lambdas.  do is not inherently imperative in the same sense
Lisp/Scheme is not inherently imperative:  they allow you to do purely
functional evaluation of expressions but also to tint the computations
with side-effects... your choice.

> So, overall, i consider your argument for “do” in Scheme lisp being
> functional is weak, or trivial. It seems to be a pet peeve.

It is a pet peeve in that you call `do' imperative without arguments
while a few other Schemers call `do' imperative on the basis of
political bickering.  Nobody gives `do' a chance of the base of it
being what it is: a macro transform into let.  Any imperative
programming you do with `do' will get the same effect as if you do the
same imperative programming with let.  Imperative or functional, it's
up to the user, not inherently from any language construct.

> You got
> annoyed because i seem to have ignored it entirely. But i got annoyed
> by you because you don't get the point about what i consider more
> significant opinion on “list comprehension”, which you totally ignored
> and kept at hacking the “do” in Scheme lisp.

It's because I don't think I have much to comment on list
comprehensions other than being useful syntax at times for an
expression returning a list.

More information about the Python-list mailing list