Skip to content
Remarks on Style


Style improves with knowledge of the language

The more q you know, the less code you will need to write. Q has been designed to simpify many of the tasks routinely required in writing distributed event-driven applications. Stay alert for code that feels ‘wrong’.

Expect q to provide a simple solution to what seems like a simple problem.

Program with, and not against, the grain of the language

For example, q provides two notations for constructing a list:

1 2.2 3          / real vector
(1;2.2;3)        / list of integers and reals

Vector notation is used to create structures of atoms of the same type. List notation is more general, and can be used to create lists whose items are arbitrary q data. Vector notation requires less typing. Vectors have the most efficient forms of storage. And vectors compute faster than general lists. Q nudges you in the direction of efficiency by making efficient structures easier to create than inefficient ones.

Seek to apply this to your own designs.

Seek opportunities to throw away code

A fact to bear in mind is that all of q is contained in 4,000 lines of C code. That figure encompasses the language as well as all the code for the interprocess communications (IPC), object-file management, and operating-system interaction.

Q’s freedom from bugs is not unrelated to the high degree of compression achieved in the source code.