learnpython.org - an online interactive Python tutorial

harrismh777 harrismh777 at charter.net
Sat Apr 23 23:10:47 EDT 2011

Steven D'Aprano wrote:
> If that's a "serious" flaw, it's a flaw shared by the vast majority of
> programming languages.

    Yes, agreed.

> As for the question of "consistency", I would argue the opposite: that
> auto-promoting strings to numbers arguably is useful, but that is what is
> inconsistent, not the failure to do so.

    I see your point...  but I'll push back just a little, in a minute...

> Consider...
> "one" + 1
> "[1, 2, 3]" + [4]
> "[2, 40, 10, 3]".sort()

    Yes, maybe problems all. Again, I see the point of your argument, 
and I do not necessarily disagree...

    I've been giving this some more thought. From the keyboard, all I am 
able to enter are character strings (not numbers). Presumably these are 
UTF-8 strings in python3.  If I enter the character string  57  then 
python converts my character string input and returns an reference to 
object 57.  If I enter the keyboard character string 34567 then the 
python interpreter converts my character string input into an object 
(creates a new object) (34567) returning a reference to that object (a 
type int). If I enter the keyboard character string 3.14 the python 
interpreter creates a float object (converts my string into a float) and 
returns a reference to the object. In any event, keyboard character 
strings that just happen to be numbers, are converted into int or float 
objects by the interpreter, from the keyboard, automatically.
    My idea for consistency is this: since the interpreter converts int 
to float, and float to imaginary (when needed), then it does (at least 
in a limited way) type promoting. So, it is consistent with the input 
methods generally to promote numeric string input to int --> float --> 
imaginary, as needed, therefore it is also consistent to promote a 
numeric string (that which I used to call a REXX number) into an int --> 
float --> imaginary, as implied by the statement(s). I am not asking for 
weak typing generally... nor am I thinking that all promotions are a 
good thing... just numeric string to int --> float --> imaginary when it 
makes sense. In any event, the programmer should be able to overide the 
behavior explicitly. On the other hand, I do see your point regarding 
performance. Otherwise,...

    ... type promotions really would not cause any more confusion for 
programmers who now know that int will be converted to float and use 
that knowledge conveniently....

    I do believe that explicit is better than implicit (generally)... 
but not in this case. I am noticing a pattern in some of the responses, 
and that pattern is that some folks would find this appealing if not 
overtly convenient. The question IS, which I am not able to answer at 
this point, whether the convenience would actually cause other 
difficulties that would be worse...?

kind regards,
m harris

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