[Tutor] Problems with genetically engineering the Print Ogre

alan.gauld@bt.com alan.gauld@bt.com
Thu, 28 Feb 2002 17:25:59 -0000

> In America, students are exposed to "set builder" notation 
> starting at about age 12.  That's where list comprehensions 
> trace from, quite directly 

I can't speak for Germany, nor even for modern UK practice,
but personally I didn't meet set definition syntax until the 
end of second year high school (about 14) and had the 
opportunity to drop math (and major on say sciences/engineering 
instead) very soon after. Thus it is entirely possible that 
I could have gone thru' school with only a brief exposure to 
set building notation. (We had of course covered set theory 
with Venn diagrams, Union symbols etc but not the set 
definition syntax resembling comprehensions...) In fact I 
personally kept up math and thus had exposure through the next 
3 years until I went off to earn a living!

Then, 9 years after leaving school I went back to University 
and studied Electrical Engineering with compulsory math each 
year for 4 years. I think I only saw set notation being used
a handful of times and it certainly wasn't needed to pass 
the exams. My point being that in my own experience it is 
very easy to become a professional engineer/programmer 
without much exposure to set builder notation and in 
that case list comprehensions are far from being 
easily comprehensible! 

As for me, I think they are overused - like many new 
toys - and the older map/filter/reduce are often clearer 
constructs, but in the other places, where they really 
are useful I am starting to use them and grudgingly like 
them.... I just don't find the 

[x for x ...

syntax scans well in my brain...

> You can't tell me Germany[or UK?] coddles its young
> students more than America does <wink>.

It may be so. Or maybe we give them integral calculus sooner 
to compensate - around the same time as set builder notation...


Alan G.