Python Notes (0.14.0)

1. Iterators

We have already seen iterators in the previous sections. In this section, we will define more precisely what they are and how to make them.

Iterators are objects that can be traversed through all the elements of a collection. When you loop over a dictionary or a string or a list you use the iterator of the structure itself. For instance, if you loop over a dictionary you actaully traverse its keys:

>>> data = {"a":1,"b":2,"c":3}
>>> for key in data:
...    print key

Iterators have different behaviour depending on the object type. For instance, if you loop over a string, you get characters.:

>>>  s = "test"
>>> for c in s:
...     print c

You can loop over a file as well:

>>> for line in open(""):
...     print line

Many functions can take iterators as inputs (e.g., min, max, sum) as well as constructors (e.g., list, tuple, set, dict).

You can use constructors as well:

>>> x = [1, 2, 3]
>>> iterx = iter(x)
>>> list(iterx)
[1, 2, 3]

You can transform an object into an iterator using the iter() builtin function

>>> x = [1,2,3]
>>> ix = iter(x)

When there is no more element to fetch, the StopIteration error is raised.

1.1. How to create iterators

Objects that supports iter() and next() are said to be iterable. To do so you just need to implement the __iter__ and next() method.

class countdown(object):
    def __init__(self, start):
        self.count = start
    def __iter__(self):
        return self
    def next(self):
        if self.count <=0:
            raise StopIteration
        r = self.count
        self.count -= 1
        return r

See also


1.2. sentinel

iter() can take a callable argument. For instance:

def seek_next_line(f):
    for c in iter(lambda:,'\n'):

The iter(callable, sentinel) can be used in such a way that the callable is called until it returns the sentinel.