Guido on python3 for beginners

Steven D'Aprano steve at
Fri Feb 19 21:36:23 EST 2016

On Fri, 19 Feb 2016 02:39 pm, Rustom Mody wrote:

> Consider as hypothesis
> L1: Needs 4 weeks to master

A language that only takes 4 weeks to master, starting from zero programming
experience, clearly doesn't include much in the way of features.

> L2: Needs 4 years to manage (if you want to make it less hypothetical
> think C++)

Do you mean 4 years to *master*?

Generally speaking, it takes 10 years of experience to become a master of a
complex skill. You might learn all the syntax of C++ in 4 years, but that
doesn't mean you have mastered the language :-)

> Which would be more satisfying to a student?

To be satisfying, a language needs to have a shallow enough learning curve
that the student can make good progress right from the beginning, and
enough features that they can actually do interesting things. Here's a
language that a student can learn in about one minute, because it only has
two features:


    LET x = 99


    print x

But you can't do anything interesting with this language, so it is not
satisfying. On the other hand, here's "Hello World" in another language,
one which is Turing complete so it can do anything Python or C can do:


but the learning curve is steep enough that it will be frustrating rather
than interesting.


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