[Tutor] [FYI] Good source of info on relative efficency of various string, list, etc. methods (and much more)

Brian van den Broek bvande at po-box.mcgill.ca
Tue Apr 27 12:33:49 EDT 2004

Hi all,

I have a recommendation for other's learning Python.

Last week I posted a query essentially asking about the relative 
efficiency of several approaches to dealing with some data. 
(http://mail.python.org/pipermail/tutor/2004-April/029329.html) I received 
helpful advice, but I've since found a very handy presentation of these 
sorts of issues.

The 15pp or so section on Optimization in Chapter 17 of Python in a 
Nutshell (http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/pythonian/) provides a very 
readable survey of the computational costs of a number of methods for 
processing Python objects. The math and computing theory involved is very 
low level (no NP-completeness or anything like that :-) ). While it quotes 
the Knuth nugget about premature optimization and evil, it provides what 
seems to me to be enough information to guide rational choice without so 
much detail as to make you likely to spend time chasing a 0.41% 
performance gain.

Beyond the particular section mentioned, I recommend this text in the 
strongest terms. I'd worked through Learning Python and while great in 
that is is discursive, it is not too good as a "quick, how's that work 
again?" text. (No slight; that's not its job.) If, like me, you prefer a 
physical book to reading docs on the screen, Nutshell is a great text -- 
for a quick reference it is remarkably readable! (In the few days since 
amazon finally came through, several queries that might well have ended up 
as tutor posts were quickly resolved by the text.)

Hope that helps some other newbies.

Best to all,

Brian vdB

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