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What I find interesting here is that Python (and most other dynamically-typed languages) treat instances of classes as arbitrary bags of properties, with the negative performance implications of that, even though that feature is rarely used.

I'd love to have the time to examine codebases and get real data, but my strong hunch is that in Python and Ruby, most of the time every instance of a class has the exact same set of fields and methods. These languages pay a large performance penalty for all field accesses, to enable a rare use case.

JavaScript VMs (and maybe Ruby >=1.9?) don't pay the perf cost because they do very advanced optimizations ("hidden classes" in V8 et. al.) to handle this. But then they pay the cost of the complexity of implementing that optimization.

I'm working on a little dynamically-typed scripting language[1] and one design decision I made was to make the set of fields in an object statically-determinable. Like Ruby, it uses a distinct syntax for fields, so we can tell just by parsing the full set a class uses.

My implementation is less than 5k lines of not-very-advanced C code, and it runs the DeltaBlue[2] benchmark about three times faster than CPython.

People think you need static types for efficiency, but I've found you can get quite far just having static shape. You can still be fully dynamically-dispatched and dynamically type your variables, but locking down the fields and methods of an object simplifies a lot of things. You lose some metaprogramming flexibility, but I'm interesting in seeing how much of a trade-off that really is in practice.

[1] https://github.com/munificent/wren [2] https://github.com/munificent/wren/blob/master/benchmark/del...




Python actually comes static shapes for objects with __slots__

class vertex(object):

   __slots__ = ["x", "y", "z"]
I use __slots__ in most code after the first refactor for a very important reason - I'm a hyper-caffeinated code monkey.

I wasted an entire day because I set self.peices in one place and self.pieces in another & couldn't figure out the bug, until I used the "grep method".


Right, but the problem here is you have to opt in to that. The most terse, simple way to express something is also the slowest.

Most classes have static shapes, so for the few types that are more dynamic, I think it makes sense for users to have to opt out.


pylint would have told you that as well.


try pycharm, it highlights occurrences of self.pieces with different colors where you are reading from and writing to it. It even makes it visible on the scrollbar.


Common Lisp implementations implement CLOS and structure objects as vectors. In high-performance implementations CLOS dynamism can be reduced so that slot-accessors can be compiled to inlined vector references.


I think this is a very crucial point. There are dynamic languages which can be implemented efficiently (e.g., Lisp), and with others it is difficult because of fundamental features of the language. Another example is monkey patching, e.g., replacing a method of an object at runtime. Restricting such language features and thereby speeding up the interpreter would have been an ideal selling point for Python 3, in my opinion, but of course it's too late now.


> Restricting such language features and thereby speeding up the interpreter would have been an ideal selling point for Python 3, in my opinion, but of course it's too late now.

This could trivially be implemented in a point-release as an opt-in feature – the scientific community has paved the way for this with Cython and Python 3's function annotations[1] would be an excellent way to do something like that where a function could e.g. promise not to change things dynamically, guarantee that you only accept certain data types and thus a particular list operation can be run without checking for dynamic dispatch / duck typings, etc.

1. http://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-3107/


You can add some bolt-on features to speed some things up, but it is much nicer when things are fast by default, by design. Instead you could have the opposite kind of annotations, e.g., decorators for classes @monkeypatchable or @attributes_can_be_added_outside_of_init; after all, those features are rarely needed, and it's good to optimize for the common case.


the feature is maybe rarely used directly, but is crucial to make dynamic typing actually useful. Things like SQLAlchemy are possible thanks to the dynamic aspect of python. Writing a simple plugin system in python is trivial. Mocking is more or less trivial in those languages as well.




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