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Yes, and starting from the distributed version first, one can even miss the fact that everything can be immensely faster once the communication is out of the way.

There's no a single simple answer, except: don't decide about the implementation first, instead competently and without prejudice evaluate your actual possibilities.

Also don't decide the language like "Python" or "Ruby" first. If you expect that the calculations are going to take a month, then code them in Ruby and wait the month for the result, you can miss the fact that you could have had the results in one day by just using another language, most probably without sacrifying the readability of the code much. Only if the task is really CPU-bound, of course.

On another side, if you have a ready solution in Python, and you'd need a month to develop the solution for other language, the first thing you have to consider is how often you plan to repeat the calculations afterwards. Etc.

I'd also toss in ease of correctness if you don't have a really well-known problem with a good test suite: I've seen a number of cases where people developed “tight” C code which gave results which appeared reasonable and then ran it for months before noticing logic errors which would either have been impossible or easier to find in a higher-level language or, particularly, one which had better numeric error handling characteristics.

There is a lot to be said for confirming that you have the right logic and then looking into something like PyPy/Cython/etc. or porting to a lower-level language.

> one which had better numeric error handling characteristics

Which language do you suggest which matches this?

I don't know many people who use the language "numeric error handling characteristic" but I know the benefit of already having good written high-level primitives (or libraries).

The first example which comes to mind are integer overflows, which are notoriously easy to miss in testing with small / insufficiently-representative data. Languages like Python which use a arbitrary-precision system will avoid incorrect results at the expense of performance and I believe a few other languages will raise an exception to force the developer to decide the correct way to handle them.

The other area I've seen this a lot is caused by the way floating point math works not matching non-specialists’ understanding – unexpectedly-failing equality checks, precision loss making the results dependent on the order of operations, etc. That's a harder problem: switching to a Decimal type can avoid the problem at the expense of performance but otherwise it mostly comes down to diligent testing and, hopefully, some sort of linting tool for the language you're using.

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