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

Seebs usenet-nospam at seebs.net
Thu Sep 30 05:48:06 CEST 2010

On 2010-09-30, namekuseijin <namekuseijin at gmail.com> wrote:
> it generates a list from syntax comprehended in list-like syntax!

Okay, help me out here.  (Killed the crossposting.)

I am not understanding how the word applies.  I'm fine with it, but I don't
see any relation at all between the thing called a list comprehension and
the word "comprehension" as I normally understand it.

Who or what is doing the comprehending?  Is this a sense of "comprehension"
other than "to understand"?  It seems like it's perhaps related to
"comprehensive".  However, I've never seen "comprehension" used to refer
to anything other than understanding prior to encountering "list

[... hmm.  maybe time to go searching...]

Looking around, it seems this is from mathematical jargon, to wit,
"set comprehensions".  Since I hadn't run into that jargon, I had no
clue what the etymology was, and "comprehended" is not a verb I would
ever have used with this.  However, looking around, it appears that
this usage also occurs in the same jargon; once you've got one of them
the other follows.

I guess the key, though, is that this is purely jargon, and jargon from
another field -- not all programmers have done all mathematics.  I even
took a ton of bonus math in college, but happened not to have done anything
where this terminology was used.  So the usage is, pardon the pun,
incomprehensible to me to begin with, and saying it's called a
comprehension because it's comprehended doesn't help -- that's two forms
of the same unfamiliar jargon.

Of course, the jargon is pretty reasonable as such goes, in no small
part because of the plain English sense of "comprehensive" in the
sense of covering something completely, so it's not awful.

But from where I'm coming, it would be every bit as obvious to call it
a "list exhaustion", by analagous derivation from "exhaustive".

Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed.  Peter Seebach / usenet-nospam at seebs.net
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