How clean/elegant is Python's syntax?

Steven D'Aprano steve+comp.lang.python at
Thu May 30 21:36:29 CEST 2013

On Thu, 30 May 2013 10:12:22 -0700, rusi wrote:

> On Thu, May 30, 2013 at 9:34 AM, Ma Xiaojun <damage3025 at>
> wrote:

>> Wait a minute! Isn't the most nature way of doing/thinking "generating
>> 9x9 multiplication table" two nested loop?
> Thats like saying that the most natur(al) way of using a car is to
> attach a horse to it.
> Likewise in the world of programming, 90% of programmers think
> imperative/OO programming is natural while functional programming is
> strange.  Just wait 10 years and see if things are not drastically
> different!

It won't be. Functional programming goes back to Lisp, which is nearly as 
old as Fortran and older than Cobol. There have been many decades for 
functional languages to become mainstream, but they've never quite done 
it. There's no reason to think that the next decade will see a change to 

That's not to say that functional programming isn't one of the big three 
programming paradigms. But it's third out of the three, and quite a bit 
behind the other two:


with Logic programming a distant fourth. Well, perhaps even third, ahead 
of Functional, taking into account that SQL is a form of Logic 

Some modern Functional languages are really neat, like Haskell, but I 
think the sad truth is that to really master them (and not just make do 
with a small percentage of their functionality) is beyond 90% of 
programmers. I'm not ashamed to admit that I struggle with advanced FP 

But even if only a minority of programmers can master languages like 
Lisp, Haskell, or Scheme, doesn't mean that *all* programmers can't learn 
something from them. Functional programming is at least 50% a philosophy:

* pass arguments to functions, and return results, rather than getting 
and setting state from a variable.

This is a good strategy: it makes it easier to reason about the code, 
easier to document, easier to test, and makes it practical to use it in 
threaded code.


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