Explanation of list reference

Marko Rauhamaa marko at pacujo.net
Fri Feb 14 22:43:57 CET 2014

Chris Angelico <rosuav at gmail.com>:

> be careful of simplifications that will cause problems down the line.

Sure. Let it be said, though, that sometimes you learn through
inaccuracies, a technique used intentionally by Knuth's TeXBook, for
example. In fact, you get through highschool mathematics successfully
without knowing what numbers and variables actually are.

> Distinguishing "small values" from "big values" leads to the obvious
> question: Which is which? And why doesn't this work?

This is related to the recent id(string) question on this forum.

Unfortunately neither the "everything is a reference" model nor the
"small/big" model help you predict the value of an "is" operator in the
ambiguous cases.

Back to the original question, though. Python, I think, is a great
introductory programming language to a complete newbie. Explaining
Python's memory model at some level is necessary right off the bat.
However, it is far from easy to understand. I'm not sure the small/big
way is the best approach, but it seeks to bridge the gap from the naive
understanding of tutorial day one to the presented question (tutorial
day two).


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