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Python (programming language)

Python is an interpreted, high-level, general-purpose programming language. Created by Guido van Rossum and first released in 1991, Python's design philosophy emphasizes code readability with its notable use of significant whitespace. Its language constructs and object-oriented approach aims to help programmers write clear, logical code for small and large-scale projects.

Python is a multi-paradigm programming language. Object-oriented programming and structured programming are fully supported, and many of its features support functional programming and aspect-oriented programming (including by metaprogramming and metaobjects (magic methods)). Many other paradigms are supported via extensions, including design by contract and logic programming.

Python's developers strive to avoid premature optimization, and reject patches to non-critical parts of the CPython reference implementation that would offer marginal increases in speed at the cost of clarity. When speed is important, a Python programmer can move time-critical functions to extension modules written in languages such as C, or use PyPy, a just-in-time compiler. Cython is also available, which translates a Python script into C and makes direct C-level API calls into the Python interpreter.

Methods on objects are functions attached to the object's class; the syntax instance.method(argument) is, for normal methods and functions, syntactic sugar for Class.method(instance, argument). Python methods have an explicit self parameter to access instance data, in contrast to the implicit self (or this) in some other object-oriented programming languages (e.g., C++, Java, Objective-C, or Ruby).

Python uses duck typing and has typed objects but untyped variable names. Type constraints are not checked at compile time; rather, operations on an object may fail, signifying that the given object is not of a suitable type. Despite being dynamically typed, Python is strongly typed, forbidding operations that are not well-defined (for example, adding a number to a string) rather than silently attempting to make sense of them.

Before version 3.0, Python had two kinds of classes: old-style and new-style. The syntax of both styles is the same, the difference being whether the class object is inherited from, directly or indirectly (all new-style classes inherit from object and are instances of type). In versions of Python 2 from Python 2.2 onwards, both kinds of classes can be used. Old-style classes were eliminated in Python 3.0.

Python has extensive built-in support for arbitrary precision arithmetic. Integers are transparently switched from the machine-supported maximum fixed-precision (usually 32 or 64 bits), belonging to the python type int, to arbitrary precision, belonging to the Python type long, where needed. The latter have an "L" suffix in their textual representation. (In Python 3, the distinction between the int and long types was eliminated; this behavior is now entirely contained by the int class.) The Decimal type/class in module decimal (since version 2.4) provides decimal floating point numbers to arbitrary precision and several rounding modes. The Fraction type in module fractions (since version 2.6) provides arbitrary precision for rational numbers.

Python's large standard library, commonly cited as one of its greatest strengths, provides tools suited to many tasks. For Internet-facing applications, many standard formats and protocols such as MIME and HTTP are supported. It includes modules for creating graphical user interfaces, connecting to relational databases, generating pseudorandom numbers, arithmetic with arbitrary precision decimals, manipulating regular expressions, and unit testing.

CPython is the reference implementation of Python. It is written in C, meeting the C89 standard with several select C99 features. It compiles Python programs into an intermediate bytecode which is then executed by its virtual machine. CPython is distributed with a large standard library written in a mixture of C and native Python. It is available for many platforms, including Windows and most modern Unix-like systems. Platform portability was one of its earliest priorities.