RE: Mutable strings

Discussion in 'Python' started by, Sep 22, 2003.

  1. Guest

    > From: Alex Martelli [SMTP:]
    > Hans-Joachim Widmaier wrote:
    > > I don't think strings are immutable because they ought to be that way
    > > (e.g. some CS guru teaches that "mutable strings are the root of all
    > > evil"). They're immutable because they allow them to be used as
    > > dictionary keys. And it was found that this doesn't affect the
    > > usefulness of the language too much.

    > Wrong. Consider Java, even back from the very first version: it had
    > no dictionaries on which string might be keys, yet it still decided
    > to make its strings immutable. This should make it obvious that the
    > interest of using keys as dict keys cannot possibly be the sole
    > motivation for the decision to make strings immutable in a language.
    > Rather, the deeper motivation is connected to wanting strings to be
    > ATOMIC, ELEMENTARY types, just like numbers; and to lots of useful
    > practical returns of that choice. All you lose is the "ability" to
    > "confuse" (type-pun) between strings and arrays of bytes in many
    > situations, but that's an ability best lost in many cases. It's not
    > an issue of "evil" -- a close-to-the-hardware low-level language
    > like C has excellent reasons to choose a different, close-to-HW
    > semantics -- but in a higher-level language I think Python's and
    > Java's choice to have strings immutable works better than (e.g.)
    > Perl's and Ruby's to have them mutable.

    I came across a good write up of this principle today -

    Simon Brunning,

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    , Sep 22, 2003
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  2. Wow, that's timely!
    Good write-up.
    Gordon Airport, Sep 22, 2003
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