There are reading-comprehension exercises included throughout the text. These are meant to help you put your reading to practice. Solutions for the exercises are included at the bottom of this page.
In this section, we will be introduced to the
elif statements. These allow you to specify that blocks of code are to be executed only if specified conditions are found to be true, or perhaps alternative code if the condition is found to be false. For example, the following code will square
x if it is a negative number, and will cube
x if it is a positive number:
# a simple if-else block if x < 0: x = x ** 2 else: x = x ** 3
Please refer to the “Basic Python Object Types” subsection to recall the basics of the “boolean” type, which represents True and False values. We will extend that discussion by introducing comparison operations and membership-checking, and then expanding on the utility of the built-in
Comparison statements will evaluate explicitly to either of the boolean-objects:
False. There are eight comparison operations in Python:
strictly less than
less than or equal
strictly greater than
greater than or equal
negated object identity
The first six of these operators are familiar from mathematics:
>>> 2 < 3 True
== have very different meanings. The former is the assignment operator, and the latter is the equality operator:
>>> x = 3 # assign the value 3 to the variable `x` >>> x == 3 # check if `x` and 3 have the same value True
Python allows you to chain comparison operators to create “compound” comparisons:
>>> 2 < 3 < 1 # performs (2 < 3) and (3 < 1) False
== checks to see if two objects have the same value, the
is operator checks to see if two objects are actually the same object. For example, creating two lists with the same contents produces two distinct lists, that have the same “value”:
# demonstrating `==` vs `is` >>> x = [1, 2, 3] >>> y = [1, 2, 3] >>> x == y True # `x` and `y` reference equivalent, but distinct lists >>> x is y False
is operator is most commonly used to check if a variable references the
None object, or either of the boolean objects:
>>> x = None >>> x is None True # (2 < 0) returns the object `False` # thus this becomes: `False is False` >>> (2 < 0) is False True
is not to check if two objects are distinct:
>>> 1 is not None True
bool and Truth Values of Non-Boolean Objects
Recall that the two boolean objects
False formally belong to the
int type in addition to
bool, and are associated with the values
>>> isinstance(True, int) True >>> int(True) 1 >>> isinstance(False, int) True >>> int(False) 0 >>> 3*True - False 3 >>> True / False --------------------------------------------------------------------------- ZeroDivisionError Traceback (most recent call last) <ipython-input-4-f8487d9d0863> in <module>() ----> 1 True / False ZeroDivisionError: division by zero
Likewise Python ascribes boolean values to non-boolean objects. For example,the number 0 is associated with
False and non-zero numbers are associated with
True. The boolean values of built-in objects can be evaluated with the built-in Python command
# Using `bool` to access the True/False # value of non-boolean objects >>> bool(0) False
and non-zero Python integers are associated with
# nonzero values evaluate to `True` >>> bool(2) True
The following built-in Python objects evaluate to
Zero of any numeric type:
Any empty sequence, such as an empty string or list:
Empty dictionaries and sets
Thus non-zero numbers and non-empty sequences/collections evaluate to
bool function allows you to evaluate the boolean values ascribed to various non-boolean objects. For instance,
bool([1, 2]) returns
We now introduce the simple, but powerful
elif conditional statements. This will allow us to create simple branches in our code. For instance, suppose you are writing code for a video game, and you want to update a character’s status based on her/his number of health-points (an integer). The following code is representative of this:
if num_health > 80: status = "good" elif num_health > 50: status = "okay" elif num_health > 0: status = "danger" else: status = "dead"
else statement must end in a colon character, and the body of each of these statements is delimited by whitespace.
The following pseudo-code demonstrates the general template for conditional statements:
if <expression_1>: the code within this indented block is executed if.. - bool(<expression_1>) is True elif <expression_2>: the code within this indented block is executed if.. - bool(<expression_1>) was False - bool(<expression_2>) is True ... ... elif <expression_n>: the code within this indented block is executed if.. - bool(<expression_1>) was False - bool(<expression_2>) was False ... ... - bool(<expression_n-1>) was False - bool(<expression_n>) is True else: the code within this indented block is executed only if all preceding expressions were False
In practice this can look like:
x = [1, 2] if 3 < len(x): # bool(3 < 2) returns False, this code # block is skipped print("`x` has more than three items in it") elif len(x) == 2: # bool(len(x) == 2) returns True # this code block is executed print("`x` has two items in it") elif len(x) == 1: # this statement is never reached print("`x` has one items in it") else: # this statement is never reached print("`x` is an empty list") "`x` has two items in it"
In its simplest form, a conditional statement requires only an
elif clauses can only follow an
# A conditional statement consisting of # an "if"-clause, only. x = -1 if x < 0: x = x ** 2 # x is now 1
Similarly, conditional statements can have an
if and an
else without an
# A conditional statement consisting of # an "if"-clause and an "else" x = 4 if x > 2: x = -2 else: x = x + 1 # x is now -2
Conditional statements can also have an
if and an
elif without an
# A conditional statement consisting of # an "if"-clause and an "elif" x = 'abc' if len(x) < 9: x = x * 3 elif len(x) > 40: x = 'cba' # x is now 'abcabcabc'
Note that only one code block within a single if-elif-else statement can be executed: either the “if-block” is executed, or an “elif-block” is executed, or the “else-block” is executed. Consecutive if-statements, however, are completely independent of one another, and thus their code blocks can be executed in sequence, if their respective conditional statements resolve to
# consecutive if-statements are independent x = 5 y = 0 if x < 10: y += 1 if x < 20: y += 1 # y is now 2
Reading Comprehension: Conditional statements
my_listis a list. Given the following code:
first_item = None if my_list: first_item = my_list
What will happen if
IndexError be raised? What will
my_fileis a string storing a filename, where a period denotes the end of the filename and the beginning of the file-type. Write code that extracts only the filename.
my_file will have at most one period in it. Accommodate cases where
my_file does not include a file-type.
Inline if-else statements
Python supports a syntax for writing a restricted version of if-else statements in a single line. The following code:
num = 2 if num >= 0: sign = "positive" else: sign = "negative"
can be written in a single line as:
sign = "positive" if num >=0 else "negative"
This is suggestive of the general underlying syntax for inline if-else statements:
The inline if-else statement:
A if <condition> else B returns
bool(<condition>) evaluates to
True, otherwise this expression will return
This syntax is highly restricted compared to the full “if-elif-else” expressions - no “elif” statement is permitted by this inline syntax, nor are multi-line code blocks within the if/else clauses.
Inline if-else statements can be used anywhere, not just on the right side of an assignment statement, and can be quite convenient:
# using inline if-else statements in different scenarios >>> x = 2 # will store 1 if `x` is non-negative # will store 0 if `x` is negative >>> my_list = [1 if x >= 0 else 0] >>> my_list  >>> "a" if x == 1 else "b" 'b'
We will see this syntax shine when we learn about comprehension statements. That being said, this syntax should be used judiciously. For example, inline if-else statements ought not be used in arithmetic expressions, for therein lies madness:
# don't ever do this...ever! 2 - 3 if x < 1 else 1 + 6*2 if x >= 0 else 9
Short-Circuiting Logical Expressions
Armed with our newfound understanding of conditional statements, we briefly return to our discussion of Python’s logic expressions to discuss “short-circuiting”. In Python, a logical expression is evaluated from left to right and will return its boolean value as soon as it is unambiguously determined, leaving any remaining portions of the expression unevaluated. That is, the expression may be short-circuited.
For example, consider the fact that an
and operation will only return
True if both of its arguments evaluate to
True. Thus the expression
False and <anything> is guaranteed to return
False; furthermore, when executed, this expression will return
False without having evaluated
To demonstrate this behavior, consider the following example:
# demonstrating short-circuited logic expressions >>> False and 1/0 # evaluating `1/0` would raise an error False
According to our discussion, the pattern
False and short-circuits this expression without it ever evaluating
bool(1/0). Reversing the ordering of the arguments makes this clear.
# expressions are evaluated from left to right >>> 1/0 and False --------------------------------------------------------------------------- ZeroDivisionError Traceback (most recent call last) <ipython-input-1-3471672109ee> in <module>() ----> 1 1/0 and False ZeroDivisionError: division by zero
In practice, short-circuiting can be leveraged in order to condense one’s code. Suppose a section of our code is processing a variable
x, which may be either a number or a string. Suppose further that we want to process
x in a special way if it is an all-uppercased string. The code
# this will raise an error if `x` is not a string if x.isupper(): # do something with the uppercased string
is problematic because
isupper can only be called once we are sure that
x is a string; this code will raise an error if
x is a number. We could instead write
# a valid but messy way to filter out non-string objects if isinstance(x, str): if x.isupper(): # do something with the uppercased string
but the more elegant and concise way of handling the nestled checking is to leverage our ability to short-circuit logic expressions.
# utilizing short-circuiting to concisely perform all necessary checks if isinstance(x, str) and x.isupper(): # do something with the uppercased string
See, that if
x is not a string, that
isinstance(x, str) will return
isinstance(x, str) and x.isupper() will short-circuit and return
False without ever evaluating
bool(x.isupper()). This is the preferable way to handle this sort of checking. This code is more concise and readable than the equivalent nested if-statements.
Reading Comprehension: short-circuited expressions
Consider the preceding example of short-circuiting, where we want to catch the case where
x is an uppercased string. What is the “bug” in the following code? Why does this fail to utilize short-circuiting correctly?
# what is wrong with me? if x.isupper() and isinstance(x, str): # do something with the uppercased string
Links to Official Documentation
Reading Comprehension Exercise Solutions:
False, and the code block will be skipped. Thus
First, check to see if
.is even contained in
my_file. If it is, find its index-position, and slice the string up to that index. Otherwise,
my_fileis already the file name.
my_file = "code.pdf" if "." in my_file: dot_index = my_file.index(".") filename = my_file[:dot_index] else: filename = my_file
# what is wrong with me? if x.isupper() and isinstance(x, str): # do something with the uppercased string
fails to account for the fact that expressions are always evaluated from left to right. That is,
bool(x.isupper()) will always be evaluated first in this instance and will raise an error if
x is not a string. Thus the following
isinstance(x, str) statement is useless.