Alternative suggestion for conditional expressions (see PEP 308)

Larry Bates lbates at
Thu Jul 15 17:32:30 CEST 2004

Seems that every one of the examples can be done
with a dictionary.

    sColorName = ("Black","White")[Color == COLOR_WHITE]

use dictionary lookup:

    colorNameDict={COLOR_WHITE:"White", COLOR_BLACK: "BLACK"}


    sColorName = ?{COLOR_RED:"Red",

can be done as:



you can also handle the "Default/undefined" case as:


    sColorname=ColorNameDict.get(ColorValue, defaultvalue)

or as I often do:

                   'unknown': 'Unknown'}

    sColorname=colorNameDict.get(ColorValue, colorNameDict['unknown'])

Since these dictionaries should be defined once and never
inside a loop, I don't believe that performance is an issue.

You can also simulate a switch statement as follows:

def foo(args):
    print "in foo"

def bar(args):
    print "in bar"

def hee(args):
    print "in hee"

def unknown(args):
    print "in unknown"

switchDict={'one': foo, 'two': bar, 'three': hee,
            'default': unknown}

switchFunction=switchDict.get(switchvalue, switchvalue['default'])

Again you get excellent performance because dictionary lookups
are blazingly fast.  switchDict is only evaluated a single time
(or should be) and is easily extendable by simply adding more
switch values as keys.

Larry Bates
Syscon, Inc.

"neblackcat" <neblackcat at> wrote in message
news:390d8a01.0407150701.7e3f9776 at
> Would anyone like to comment on the following idea?
> I was just going to offer it as a new PEP until it was suggested that
> I post it here for comment & consideration against PEP 308.
> I'm far from being a "language internist" (on Python or anything else)
> so go easy on me if this is stupid - it just seemed quite elegant to
> me as a relative newbie in town :-)
> I also havent got a clue whether this would be easy or even possible
> to implement even if it was deemed a reasonable idea.
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Abstract
>     Implement C-like conditional expressions, but in a more
>     flexible and "Python-like" way.
> Motivation
>     The lack of conditional expressions combined with the lack
>     of a 'switch' statement in Python tends to result in lots
>     of 'if'/'elif' lines which often arent needed and which make
>     code more verbose and sometimes (where there are a lot of
>     them) harder to follow and more prone to mistakes than it
>     needs to be.
>     This PEP attempts to address that by proposing a
>     'Pythonesque' conditional expressions language feature
>     which fits well with existing language features
>     and the way that conditional expressions are often
>     simulated in current Python code by using temporary
>     tuples, lists or dictionaries.
> Rationale
>     It is currently possible to simulate conditional
>     expressions in Python using constructs with
>     temporary tuples/lists, such as:
>     sColorName = ("Black","White")[Color == COLOR_WHITE]
>     This works, but has two disadvantages:
>     i)  it involves packing and unpacking of a 'temporary'
>         tuple, eg. ("Black","White") in the above, which
>         has performance implications
>     ii) this in turn means that *all* of the possible
>         final values have to be valid (not just the one
>         which will be actually selected), which is often
>         not the case in a more real-world example, eg:
>         r = (DEFAULT_RESULT, Database.Results[index])
>               [IsValid(index)]
>         In the above, 'Database.Results[index]' isn't
>         defined to be valid if the 'index' value isn't,
>         which means that this technique cant be used.
> Specification
>     I therefore suggest a variation on the above
>     syntax such as:
>     sColorName = ?("Black","White")[Color == COLOR_WHITE]
>     where the '?' identifies the immediately following
>     tuple as a "conditional tuple" in which the tuple is
>     not actually fully evaluated/stored.  Instead,
>     only the element specified  by the immediately following
>     index expression is evaluated and must be valid.
>     This syntax could also apply to other sequence types,
>     for example dictionaries:
>     sColorName = ?{COLOR_RED:"Red",
>                    COLOR_BLUE:"Blue",
>                    COLOR_GREEN:"Green"}[ColorValue]
>     Again, the conditional sequence is not fully evaluated/stored,
>     so it doesnt matter if it is large and/or has members which
>     arent evaluated given an index value which doesnt actually
>     select them.
>     Obviously, the above are just simple examples.

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