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The AttributeError is in a different category, because the interpreter protects you from doing unsafe things, and you get a clue as to what is wrong because you get the name of an attribute and the object which was supposed to have it. Segmentation faults can be much more difficult. For example the other day I got a segmentation fault deep in the CPython code; there was no bug there, and moving up the stack trace also did not reveal a bug either. It turned out that I had messed up a reference count _in a completely different (Cython compiled) module_, and I only found out after poring over several sections of code repeatedly.

The reason that this can happen in C is actually exactly what you bring up, silently corrupting memory. It's just that with the segmentation fault the silence is broken abruptly.

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