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Comment: 'Weak vs. Dynamic': Type Systems (Score 4, Informative) 319

by jstarr (#8471832) Attached to: Exegesis 7 Released (Perl 6 Text Formatting)
Not quite. Weak is not the opposite of dynamic, but the opposite of strong. Type systems may be either weak or strong, and may be either dynamic or static.

A weak type system will allow implicit type conversions, even those that are 'lossy' or improper. For example, converting a float to an int without requiring a cast. Or, more importantly, treating memory references (pointers) identically to integers. Pointer arithmetic is an abuse of a weak typing system.

Strong typing requires explicit casts and will throw errors where casts do not appear. Java, Lisp, Python are all strongly typed. Haskell is _really_ strongly typed. When you cast a object to type Object in Java, you are losing type information, but you are doing it _explicitly_.

C, Pascal, and Java are statically typed. Variables are created with a specific type in the code, not on demand. Python and Lisp are dynamically typed -- a variable's type is determined at run-time.

For example, in C:

int foo( int a, int b );

declares a function that returns type 'int' and takes two arguments a, b, both of types 'int'.

In Python:

def foo( a, b ):

declares a function that may or may not return a value (and whose type is known only at run-time) and takes two arguments, which may be of any type (although, internally, the program likely assumes a type).

There are some quirks in the type systems of many languages. In Java, for example, "str" + 3 doesn't have any normal meaning, but the developers have defined any operation using a string as concatenation. In Python, and in most languages, such an expression will either return an error on compilation (static) or when running (dynamic).

However, all combinations are possible and type systems are a fertile area of research.

The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work. -- Herbert V. Prochnow

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