/* no comments (part II) */

September 6, 2011

In a previous installment, I discussed the quality of English in comments, arguing that the quality of comments influences the reader’s judgment on the quality of the code as well.

That’s not the only thing that can make code harder or easier to understand. Today (anyway, at the time of writing), I was working on something where arbitrary-looking constants would constantly come up. I mean, constants that you wouldn’t know where they’re from unless there’s a comment. A clear comment. Let’s see some of those.

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Python References vs C and C++

June 14, 2011

As I’ve mentioned before, my new job will ask me to program more in Python than C++, and that’s some what new for me. Of course, I’ve criticized Python’s dismal performance on two occasions, getting me all kind of comments (from “you can’t compare performance like that!” to “use another language then” passing by “bind to external high-performance libraries”).

But it seems that my mastery of Python is still quite inadequate, and yesterday (at the time of writing, anyway) I discovered how Python’s by-reference parameters work. Unlike C or C++ that use explicit syntax to specify what kind of object we’re dealing with (either by value, pointer, or by reference), Python is a bit sneaky.

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Suggested Readings: Programming Pearls

May 15, 2011

Jon Bentley — Programming Pearls — 2nd Ed, Addison-Wesley, 2000, 240 pp. ISBN 0-201-65788-0

(Buy at Amazon.com)

The central theme of this book is efficiency and economy of solutions of programming problems. However, if the book is globally interesting, it would greatly benefit from an update; the proposed programming style—independently of the gist of the solutions— is old school in many respects. The style should probably updated to take modern programming style into account, say, à la Alexandrescu and Sutter for C++.

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INT_MAX is a terrible NaN (Safer Integer Types, Part IV)

March 15, 2011

I came across a lovely bug lately. Integer arithmetic, especially in C and C++ it seems, is error-prone. In addition to the risk of having the wrong expressions altogether (a logic error, one could say), integer arithmetic is subject to a number of pitfalls, some I have already discussed here, here, and here. This week, I discuss yet another occasion for error using integer arithmetic.

Consider this piece of code, one that you have seen many times probably, at least as a variation on the theme:

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Scary Code

November 9, 2010

If you code a lot in a week, you’re bound to make some (possibly) amusing typos. Almost every time, the typo is detected by the compiler and an error is issued, but sometimes you manage to (mis)type valid code! And I recently make one of those typo and I started wondering how far we can push this idea in writing really, really, really, really ugly code.

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Or a Whale, II

August 17, 2010

Tomorrow’s flowers are in the seeds of today.

Chinese proverb

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Or a Whale.

August 10, 2010

HAMLET:
   Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?

POLONIUS:
   By the mass, and ’tis like a camel, indeed.

HAMLET:
   Methinks it is like a weasel.

POLONIUS:
   It is backed like a weasel.

HAMLET:
   Or like a whale.

POLONIUS:
   Very like a whale.

Hamlet, Act III

William Shakespeare

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