[Numpy-discussion] Proposed Roadmap Overview

Charles R Harris charlesr.harris@gmail....
Tue Feb 28 14:13:09 CST 2012

On Tue, Feb 28, 2012 at 12:05 PM, John Hunter <jdh2358@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Sat, Feb 18, 2012 at 5:09 PM, David Cournapeau <cournape@gmail.com>wrote:
>> There are better languages than C++ that has most of the technical
>> benefits stated in this discussion (rust and D being the most
>> "obvious" ones), but whose usage is unrealistic today for various
>> reasons: knowledge, availability on "esoteric" platforms, etc… A new
>> language is completely ridiculous.
> I just saw this for the first time today: Linus Torvalds on C++ (
> http://harmful.cat-v.org/software/c++/linus).  The post is from 2007 so
> many of you may have seen it, but I thought it was entertainng enough and
> on-topic enough with this thread that I'd share it in case you haven't.
> The point he makes:
>   In other words, the only way to do good, efficient, and system-level and
>   portable C++ ends up to limit yourself to all the things that
> are basically
>   available in C
> was interesting to me because the best C++ library I have ever worked with
> (agg) imports *nothing* except standard C libs (no standard template
> library).  In fact, the only includes external to external to itself
> are math.h, stdlib.h, stdio.h, and string.h.
> To shoehorn Jamie Zawinski's famous regex quote (
> http://regex.info/blog/2006-09-15/247).  "Some people, when confronted
> with a problem, think “I know, I'll use boost.”   Now they have two
> problems."
> Here is the Linus post:
> From: Linus Torvalds <torvalds <at> linux-foundation.org>
> Subject: Re: [RFC] Convert builin-mailinfo.c to use The Better String
> Library.
> Newsgroups: gmane.comp.version-control.git
> Date: 2007-09-06 17:50:28 GMT (2 years, 14 weeks, 16 hours and 36 minutes
> ago)
> On Wed, 5 Sep 2007, Dmitry Kakurin wrote:
> >
> > When I first looked at Git source code two things struck me as odd:
> > 1. Pure C as opposed to C++. No idea why. Please don't talk about
> portability,
> > it's BS.
> *YOU* are full of bullshit.
> C++ is a horrible language. It's made more horrible by the fact that a lot
> of substandard programmers use it, to the point where it's much much
> easier to generate total and utter crap with it. Quite frankly, even if
> the choice of C were to do *nothing* but keep the C++ programmers out,
> that in itself would be a huge reason to use C.
> In other words: the choice of C is the only sane choice. I know Miles
> Bader jokingly said "to piss you off", but it's actually true. I've come
> to the conclusion that any programmer that would prefer the project to be
> in C++ over C is likely a programmer that I really *would* prefer to piss
> off, so that he doesn't come and screw up any project I'm involved with.
> C++ leads to really really bad design choices. You invariably start using
> the "nice" library features of the language like STL and Boost and other
> total and utter crap, that may "help" you program, but causes:
>  - infinite amounts of pain when they don't work (and anybody who tells me
>    that STL and especially Boost are stable and portable is just so full
>    of BS that it's not even funny)
>  - inefficient abstracted programming models where two years down the road
>    you notice that some abstraction wasn't very efficient, but now all
>    your code depends on all the nice object models around it, and you
>    cannot fix it without rewriting your app.
> In other words, the only way to do good, efficient, and system-level and
> portable C++ ends up to limit yourself to all the things that are
> basically available in C. And limiting your project to C means that people
> don't screw that up, and also means that you get a lot of programmers that
> do actually understand low-level issues and don't screw things up with any
> idiotic "object model" crap.
> So I'm sorry, but for something like git, where efficiency was a primary
> objective, the "advantages" of C++ is just a huge mistake. The fact that
> we also piss off people who cannot see that is just a big additional
> advantage.
> If you want a VCS that is written in C++, go play with Monotone. Really.
> They use a "real database". They use "nice object-oriented libraries".
> They use "nice C++ abstractions". And quite frankly, as a result of all
> these design decisions that sound so appealing to some CS people, the end
> result is a horrible and unmaintainable mess.
> But I'm sure you'd like it more than git.
Yeah, Linus doesn't like C++. No doubt that is in part because of the
attempt to rewrite Linux in C++ back in the early 90's and the resulting
compiler and portability problems. Linus also writes C like it was his
native tongue, he likes to work close to the metal, and he'd probably
prefer it over Python for most problems ;) Things have improved in the
compiler department, and I think C++ really wasn't much of an improvement
over C until templates and the STL came along. The boost smart pointers are
also really nice. OTOH, it is really easy to write awful C++ because of the
way inheritance and the other features were over-hyped and the 'everything
and the kitchen sink' way it developed. Like any tool, familiarity and
skill are essential to good results, but unlike some tools, one also needs
to forgo some of the features to keep it under control. It's not a hammer,
it is a three inch wide Swiss Army Knife.

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