Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Python is for girls

Thanks to Phil Guo for sending me this.

Guido van Rossum, the Benevolent Dictator of Python, said he was going to wear this shirt to PyCon: "Python is for Girls."

From the site: "This Design is actually one of those ideas you get when you had a couple beers with your friend. Even if the design isn't clear about it, lets make sure we are on the same page: Python is a great and powerful language and so easy to use that even cute girls can use it. This is proved."

Um*?

* My issue here is that this perpetuates harmful stereotypes about the abilities of boys and girls. By the way, before men co-opted programming as a "macho" task requiring special masculine abilities, programming was viewed as "women's work." Also, I must remind you that with the ease of use of Python comes with trade-offs. Recall my favorite programming language conversation:

  • Naive friend: Does your thing take a really long time to run for n=10,000?
  • Powerful Jean: Um yeah. It takes a whole minute, maybe?
  • NF: Oh. Mine has been running since before dinner.
  • PJ: Haha. Should have used C.
Girls, if you care about performance, use C. ;)

5 comments:

p said...

What that me Jean?

jxyz said...

Yes. :)

jxyz said...

Why do you keep using Python after it always burns you? Do you remember the time you experienced AI fail from your whitespace bug? :o

p said...

The reason why I used python despite the number of times it "burned" me is this: its great for the simple stuff, and its good for iterative design.

(The time-of-the-whitespace is really a non-argument, could have happened with a missing curly brace and an ill-spaced second statement in a loop, or something like that, in C.)
And the time that you quote, when my 10,000-size sample took post dinner time, was probably because I wasn't caching my results and running a silly algorithm. I think I eventually fixed it by straightening up my logic, in python (I'm pretty sure).

I think the thing I blissfully did ignore was that python offers niceties for the programmer--it gives you nice abstractions for coding (my python code regularly has maps in it), but doesn't make any effort to take those abstractions and turn that into nicely performing code.

Most of the time I didn't care because I could straighten it up without resorting to the chore of programming in C :) (C is powerful, but its definitely a chore).

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