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references to floats without ever using figure numbers (possbily using lua or python)

Stephen Wolfram's 'A New Kind of Science' states in its colophon that it has 973 illustrations spread out over 1280 pages. Remarkably, he accomplishes this without ever using figure numbers. No figure ...
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What are the advantages of Lua over other scripting languages for a TeX implementation?

The question is inspired by Martin Schröder's answer to I am new to TeX. Should I use LaTeX, XeLaTeX, …? as well as my two previous questions on this forum: Automatic document update Generate LaTeX ...