max() of a list of tuples

Erik Max Francis max at alcyone.com
Wed Jan 22 06:48:16 CET 2003


David Eppstein wrote:

> What I wonder is, why supply the final argument to reduce at all?
> Without the argument, it will work with non-numeric tuple values.
> With the argument, the values have to be comparable to floats.

The final argument would only be necessary in the edge case where the
list of tuples is empty:

>>> reduce(max, [3, 4, 5, 2])
5
>>> reduce(max, [3])
3
>>> reduce(max, [])
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in ?
TypeError: reduce() of empty sequence with no initial value

Certainly that can be handled as a special case and reduce would simply
not be needed to be called in the first place.

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