[Python-ideas] Implement comparison operators for range objects

Guido van Rossum guido at python.org
Sat Oct 15 18:47:00 CEST 2011

On Sat, Oct 15, 2011 at 12:04 AM, Nick Coghlan <ncoghlan at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sat, Oct 15, 2011 at 5:52 AM, Alexander Belopolsky
> <alexander.belopolsky at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Fri, Oct 14, 2011 at 1:23 PM, Guido van Rossum <guido at python.org> wrote:
>> ..
>>> - add read-only attributes .start, .step, .stop
>>> - add slicing such that it normalizes .stop to .start + the right
>>> multiple of .step
>>> - add __eq__ and __hash__ which compare by .start, .step, .stop
>> -1
>> I did not see a clear statement of a use-case for any of these
>> features.  I could imagine convenience of __eq__ for those used to
>> range() returning a list, but comparing by .start, .step, .stop would
>> destroy this convenience.  If you need an object with .start, .step,
>> .stop, we already have the slice object.  NumPy has some functionality
>> to create a regular sequence from a slice object.  I don't see why
>> someone would need a __hash__.  If you want to key some values by
>> ranges, just use 3-tuples instead.
> The key point here is that you can *already* invoke '==' and 'hash()'
> on 3.x ranges - they just have useless identity based semantics. The
> proposal is merely to make the semantics less pointless for something
> you can already do.
> It's also a potential step in the ongoing evolution of ranges towards
> being more like an optimised tuple of integers (but see my final
> comment to Guido below).
> The question is how to define the equivalence classes. There are 3
> possible sets of equivalence classes available. In order of increasing
> size, they are:
> 1. Identity based (status quo): each range object is equal only to itself
> 2. Definition based: range objects are equal if their start, stop and
> step values are equal
> 3. Behaviour based: range objects are equal if they produce the same
> sequence of values when iterated over
> Definitions 2 and 3 produce identical equivalence classes for all
> non-empty sequences with a step value of 1 (or -1). They only diverge
> when the sequence is empty or the magnitude of the step value exceeds
> 1.
> Under definition 3, all empty ranges form an equivalence class, so
> "range(1, 1) == range(2, 2)", just like "(0, 1, 2)[1:1] == (0, 1,
> 2)[2:2]". Under definition 2, the start/stop/step values matter.
> Under definition 3, all ranges that produces the same output (e.g.
> just their start value) form an equivalence class, so "range(1, 2, 2)
> == range(1, 0, -2)" just like "(0, 1, 2)[1:2:2] == (0, 1, 2)[1:0:-2]".
> As with empty ranges, under definition 2, the start/stop/step values
> matter.
> I'll note that under definition 3 (but with start/stop/step exposed),
> it is easy and intuitive to implement definition 2 semantics:
> "lhs.start, lhs,stop, lhs.step == rhs.start, rhs.stop, rhs.step"
> By contrast, under definition 2, implementing definition 3 requires
> the same contortions as it does now: "len(lhs) == len(rhs) and
> lhs[0:1] == rhs[0:1] and lhs[-1:] == rhs[-1:]"
> Guido, I know you wanted to kill this discussion by declaring that
> definition 2 was the way to go, but I *like* the fact that we've been
> moving towards a "memory efficient tuple of regularly spaced integers"
> interaction model for 3.x range objects, and comparison semantics
> based on exact start/stop/step values would be a definitive break from
> that model.

Ok, you've convinced me on range() equality. If I want to compare the
start/stop/step triple I can just extract those values and compare

I remember in the past thinking about unifying slice() and range() and
I couldn't do it. I still can't. I think they should remain separate.

--Guido van Rossum (python.org/~guido)

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