# 2.0 Comprehensions#

Estimated time for this notebook: 10 minutes

## 2.0.1 The list comprehension#

If you write a for loop inside a pair of square brackets for a list, you magic up a list as defined. This can make for concise but hard to read code, so be careful.

[2**x for x in range(10)]

[1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512]


Which is equivalent to the following code without using comprehensions:

result = []
for x in range(10):
result.append(2**x)

result

[1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512]


You can do quite weird and cool things with comprehensions:

[len(str(2**x)) for x in range(10)]

[1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3]


## 2.0.2 Selection in comprehensions#

You can write an if statement in comprehensions too:

[2**x for x in range(30) if x % 3 == 0]

[1, 8, 64, 512, 4096, 32768, 262144, 2097152, 16777216, 134217728]


Consider the following, and make sure you understand why it works:

"".join([letter for letter in "James Hetherington" if letter.lower() not in "aeiou"])

'Jms Hthrngtn'


## 2.0.3 Comprehensions versus building lists with append:#

This code:

result = []
for x in range(30):
if x % 3 == 0:
result.append(2**x)
result

[1, 8, 64, 512, 4096, 32768, 262144, 2097152, 16777216, 134217728]


Does the same as the comprehension above. The comprehension is generally considered more readable.

Comprehensions are therefore an example of what we call ‘syntactic sugar’: they do not increase the capabilities of the language.

Instead, they make it possible to write the same thing in a more readable way.

Almost everything we learn from now on will be either syntactic sugar or interaction with something other than idealised memory, such as a storage device or the internet. Once you have variables, conditionality, and branching, your language can do anything. (And this can be proved.)

## 2.0.4 Nested comprehensions#

If you write two for statements in a comprehension, you get a single array generated over all the pairs:

[x - y for x in range(4) for y in range(4)]

[0, -1, -2, -3, 1, 0, -1, -2, 2, 1, 0, -1, 3, 2, 1, 0]


You can select on either, or on some combination:

[x - y for x in range(4) for y in range(4) if x >= y]

[0, 1, 0, 2, 1, 0, 3, 2, 1, 0]


If you want something more like a matrix, you need to do two nested comprehensions!

[[x - y for x in range(4)] for y in range(4)]

[[0, 1, 2, 3], [-1, 0, 1, 2], [-2, -1, 0, 1], [-3, -2, -1, 0]]


Note the subtly different square brackets.

Note that the list order for multiple or nested comprehensions can be confusing:

[x + y for x in ["a", "b", "c"] for y in ["1", "2", "3"]]

['a1', 'a2', 'a3', 'b1', 'b2', 'b3', 'c1', 'c2', 'c3']

[[x + y for x in ["a", "b", "c"]] for y in ["1", "2", "3"]]

[['a1', 'b1', 'c1'], ['a2', 'b2', 'c2'], ['a3', 'b3', 'c3']]


## 2.0.5 Dictionary Comprehensions#

You can automatically build dictionaries, by using a list comprehension syntax, but with curly brackets and a colon:

{(str(x)) * 3: x for x in range(3)}

{'000': 0, '111': 1, '222': 2}


## 2.0.6 List-based thinking#

Once you start to get comfortable with comprehensions, you find yourself working with containers, nested groups of lists and dictionaries, as the ‘things’ in your program, not individual variables.

Given a way to analyse some dataset, we’ll find ourselves writing stuff like:

analysed_data = [analyze(datum) for datum in data]


There are lots of built-in methods that provide actions on lists as a whole:

any([True, False, True])

True

all([True, False, True])

False

max([1, 2, 3])

3

sum([1, 2, 3])

6


My favourite is map, which, similar to a list comprehension, applies one function to every member of a list:

[str(x) for x in range(10)]

['0', '1', '2', '3', '4', '5', '6', '7', '8', '9']

list(map(str, range(10)))

['0', '1', '2', '3', '4', '5', '6', '7', '8', '9']


So I can write:

analysed_data = map(analyse, data)


We’ll learn more about map and similar functions when we discuss functional programming later in the course.