Time we switched to unicode? (was Explanation of this Python language feature?)

Steven D'Aprano steve at pearwood.info
Tue Mar 25 06:47:51 CET 2014

On Tue, 25 Mar 2014 14:57:02 +1100, Chris Angelico wrote:

> On Tue, Mar 25, 2014 at 2:43 PM, Rustom Mody <rustompmody at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> What you are missing is that programmers spend 90% of their time
>> reading code
>> 10% writing code
>> You may well be in the super-whiz category (not being sarcastic here)
>> All that will change is upto 70-30. (ecause you rarely make a mistake)
>> You still have to read oodles of others' code
> No, I'm not missing that. But the human brain is a tokenizer, just as
> Python is. Once you know what a token means, you comprehend it as that
> token, and it takes up space in your mind as a single unit. There's not
> a lot of readability difference between a one-symbol token and a
> one-word token.

Hmmm, I don't know about that. Mathematicians are heavy users of symbols. 
Why do they write ∀ instead of "for all", or ⊂ instead of "subset"?

Why do we write "40" instead of "forty"?

> Also, since the human brain works largely with words,

I think that's a fairly controversial opinion. The Chinese might have 
something to say about that.

I think that heavy use of symbols is a form of Huffman coding -- common 
things should be short, and uncommon things longer. Mathematicians tend 
to be *extremely* specialised, so they're all inventing their own Huffman 
codings, and the end result is a huge number of (often ambiguous) symbols.

Personally, I think that it would be good to start accepting, but not 
requiring, Unicode in programming languages. We can already write:

from math import pi as π

Perhaps we should be able to write:

setA ⊂ setB


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