|The stupid question is the question not asked|
> Less symbols means less code, so it's optimization
Can't good optimization sometimes increase the number of symbols in your code (assuming you're not working in assembler)?
You can have verbose code that is highly optimized in that it avoids any expensive processes, and you can have short, compact code that actually translates to expensive machine code.
On any high level language like Perl, the code is never going to map directly to the same quantity of machine instructions.
All I'm saying is that anything done in the name of optimization has to be considered from the machines point of view.