Stavros' Stuff

Angry rants of programming and other things.

Brilliant or insane code?

A Moste Wonderfull Tale of Optimizations and Legibility

I came upon a very interesting and cryptic snippet of code somewhere nameless, and I can’t decide if it is brilliant or completely insane. It is a very obscure way of accomplishing the required task, but it’s around four times faster than the alternatives I’ve tried, so I have to admit that it’s not completely without merit. Still, I cringe a bit at seeing it, since it packs around four unusual Python concepts in almost as many characters.

This is the snippet in question:

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The curious case of the range() function

If you’ve ever programmed in Python, you have a 96.2% chance of having used the range() function. As you have a 96.1% chance of knowing, said function returns a list containing an arithmetic progression of integers, exactly as the documentation says. For example, range(4) returns [0, 1 2, 3].

If you’ve ever bothered to look at the docstring, you will see that it goes thus:

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