[Python-ideas] Backtick expression: similar to a shorter lambda syntax

James Lu jamtlu at gmail.com
Sun Jan 20 19:21:50 EST 2019

Backtick expressions work exactly like lambdas, except that they are bound to the instance they are created in every time that class is used to create one. To illustrate, this “percent” property is bound to the instance, not to the class.
class Example:
percent = property(`self.v*self.v2/100`)

And a few more examples for clarity.

def example():
locals()['a'] = 1
expr = `a+1`
return expr() # error: one variable is required

Any variable names that exist when the backtick expression is created are bound to the expression, and the reference to the expression is stored within the expression. Names that do not exist when the expresssion is created must be passed in as parameters. Such names can also be passed in as keyword arguments. Backtick expressions are created when their scope is created.

Variable names that are declared but have not been assigned to will be considered to exist for the purposes of the backtick expression.

Directly calling a backtick expression as soon as it’s created is forbidden:


But this is technically allowed but discouraged, like how := works:

Use Cases

This can be used anywhere a lambda would feel “heavy” or long. Here are a few use cases where using a backtick expression would allow code to be significantly mote readable:

If/else chains that would be switch statements.
Creating decorators.
Passing in logging hooks.
Writing design-by-contract contracts. (See icontract on GitHub for an example of what DBC looks like in Python.)
Tests and assertions.

Additionally, the instance binding enables:

A shorthand way to create a class that wraps an API to a better or more uniform code interface. Previously you’d need to make defs and @property, now each wrapped property and method is a single, readable line of code.


I propose syntax highlighters show a backtick expression on a different background color, a lighter shade of black for a dark theme; dirty white for a light thing.

I also propose the following attributes on the backtick expression.

__str__(): the string [parameter names separated by commas] => [the string of the backtick expression]
__repr__(): the original string of the backtick expression, surrounded by backticks.

I secondarily propose that backtick expressions are only bound to their instances when defined within a class when the following syntax is used:

def a = <expression>

Now, let’s bikeshed.

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