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

Terry Reedy tjreedy at udel.edu
Wed Mar 26 00:55:39 CET 2014

On 3/25/2014 11:18 AM, Steven D'Aprano wrote:

> The thing is, we can't just create a ∑ function, because it doesn't work
> the way the summation operator works. The problem is that we would want
> syntactic support, so we could write something like this:
>      p = 2
>      ∑(n, 1, 10, n**p)

Of course we can. If we do not insist on separating the dummy name from 
the expression that contains it. this works.

def sigma(low, high, func):
     sum = 0
     for i in range(low, high+1):
         sum += func(i)
     return sum

p = 2
print(sigma(1, 10, lambda n: n**p))
which looks correct. This corresponds to a notation like so

∑ n: n**p

which, for ranges, is more sensible that the standard. Lambda is an 
explicit rather than implicit quotation.

If you do insist on separating two things that belong together, you can 
quote with quote marks instead and join within the function to get the 
same answer.

def sig2(var, low, high, exp):
     func = eval("lambda {}: {}".format(var, exp))
     sum = 0
     for i in range(low, high+1):
         sum += func(i)
     return sum

p = 2
print(sig2('n', 1, 10, 'n**p'))

To me, both these apis are 'something' like the api with implicit 
quoting, which is impossible for function calls, but common in 
statements. (This is one reason to make a construct a python statement 
rather than function. Jumping is another) Using the same api, one could 
instead expand the template to include the for loop and use exec instead 
of eval.

def sig3(var, low, high, exp):
     loca = {}
sum = 0
for {} in range({}, {}):
     sum += {}\
'''.format(var, low, high+1, exp), globals(), loca)

     return loca['sum']

print(sig3('n', 1, 10, 'n**p'))

> This cannot be an ordinary function, because if it were, the n**p
> expression would be evaluated before passing the result to the function.

So would the dummy parameter name n.

> We want it to delay evaluation, like a list comp:
>      [n**p for n in range(1, 11)]
> the expression n**p gets evaluated inside the list comp.

Which is to say, it is implicitly quoted

> That cannot be written as a function either:
>      list_comp(n**p, n, range(1, 11)

It can be with explicit quoting, similar to how done for sigma.  Some 
lisps once and maybe still have 'special' functions that implicitly 
quote certain arguments. One just has to learn which functions and which 
parameters. I prefer having implicit quoting relegated to a limited set 
of statements, where is it pretty clear what must be quoted for the 
statement to make any sense. Assignment is one example, while, for, and 
comprehensions are others.

Terry Jan Reedy

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