[Numpy-discussion] matlab vs. python question

Anne Archibald peridot.faceted@gmail....
Wed Apr 25 21:56:24 CDT 2007

On 25/04/07, Sturla Molden <sturla@molden.no> wrote:

> You have to realize that Matlab is mainly used by people who are not
> skilled programmers but scientists and engineers, the majority of which
> have never used anything else except perhaps Fortran 77. An array is the
> most advanced data structure they will ever need. I should know, I was
> among them for several years. Then I did something as silly as teaching
> myself C++. God knows why.

I have a quibble with this. I work with scientists too, and while an
array is usually the most sophisticated data structure they ever use,
it's not the most sophisticated data structure they ever *need*. Many
many times I've seen a project that is more limited, more error-prone,
slower, and more painful to use because the programmer didn't know
about or didn't use the right programming tools. Or was using a
language that didn't make them readily available.

Take, for example, optparse. Hardly a scientific package, indeed, but
it makes little command-line utilities vastly easier to write right.
And at least in our group, small command-line utilities do an awful
lot of the work.

Now, teaching us to actually write half-decent programs is another story...

Anne M. Archibald

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