[Pdx-pm] Fwd: Genomics at OHSU

Thomas J Keller kellert at ohsu.edu
Mon Nov 28 11:02:26 PST 2005

Hi All,
This is probably cheating. Tough, defending Perl against this Python  
snob should get you riled up enough to burn up a few of those T-day  
calories. So help me out here. Any other good arguments for this in  
house discussion? The fellow I got into this with is an Assistant  
Professor  in the Medical Informatics program. I'd like him to get  
over his dislike for Perl.

What occurs to me to say is that if you can't understand someone  
else's perl code, they either didn't intend you to, or they were too  
short-sighted to write it properly. And what I like about Perl is  
that I can do anything with it that needs to be done. (I usually have  
to ask some help from the highly vaunted perl mongers of course.)


Begin forwarded message:

> From: "Aaron Cohen" <cohenaa at ohsu.edu>
> Date: November 28, 2005 10:44:55 AM PST
> To: "Tom Keller" <kellert at ohsu.edu>
> Subject: Re: Genomics at OHSU
> Tom:
> Challenges are good when they lead to interesting discussions.  
> Here's my two cents.
> I can't argue against the fact that Perl is good for one line  
> string manipulations. However, old-fashioned Unix tools such as sed  
> do the same thing.
> Python isn't geared towards this kind of brevity. The reason that I  
> like Python is that it makes me more productive, and I have been  
> able to use it as a single language
> to do lots of things, both small and large quickly.
> I think that any Python lover (not just me) would admit that Python  
> doesn't provide the "least characters" way of doing things. But  
> they would also consider
> that a low priority compared to programmer productivity, debugging  
> time, ability to understand other's code, etc. The problem with  
> using brevity as a measure of goodness is that it becomes  
> irrelevent for programs of any decent size. I like Python because I  
> have writing all kinds of complex programs (genetic optimizers,  
> machine learning classifiers, statistical analyzers, video editors,  
> Sudoku solvers, etc.) and months or years later I can still  
> understand the programs that I wrote.
> My gripe against Perl is that I can't make heads or tails out of  
> someone else's code without a language manual by my side. Do you  
> have any experience in taking and adapting someone else's largish  
> Perl code? Perhaps your experience is different.
> That said, one should always pick an appropriate tool for the job,  
> and if Perl works for what you're doing, great. I think that you  
> implied that Perl is your first language, so you may want to look  
> into another as a comparison. I like Python, but I have heard some  
> nice things about Ruby. And of course, Java is always a good  
> language to know something about.
> -Aaron
>>>> Thomas J Keller <kellert at ohsu.edu> 11/25/2005 9:30 AM >>>
> Hi Aaron,
> As you can see, once I'm given a challenge, I don't easily let it go:
> After sending my last message, I realized there was an even shorter
> perl method from the command line
> $ perl -pe 'y/Z/5/'
> Tom

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