[erlang-questions] More a comment that a question

Bob Ippolito bob@REDACTED
Fri Jun 8 19:21:57 CEST 2012

On Fri, Jun 8, 2012 at 9:34 AM, Paul Barry <paul.james.barry@REDACTED>wrote:

> I've been coding/working with Erlang (and Chicago Boss) for a while
> now, and I've recently had to do some work in Python.  I find myself
> looking at some code I'm writing that looks like this:
>   html = html + "some markup"
> and getting nervous as I know this is a "naughty" that Erlang would
> not let me away with.   If only there was a "make everything
> immutable" switch for Python!  ;-)

Strictly speaking, there's no mutation at all here, because str in Python
*are* immutable. What's happening is that the variable html is rebound to
the result. This is roughly equivalent to something like this in Erlang [1]:

    HTML1 = <<HTML/binary, "some markup">>.

You really wouldn't want to have to write Python in single assignment form,
especially without tail call optimization. Python IO would benefit from
something like Erlang's iolist, but for use cases like the above people
tend to append to a list and then join it with the empty string, or use an
instance of cStringIO.StringIO.

[1] Some versions of CPython do have some hacks that can detect this x += s
where x is a string with a reference count of 1 and strategically do these
updates in-place with over-allocation... so it's possible that it's not
quite as bad as you think it is (amortized).

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