check for dictionary keys

John Machin sjmachin at
Tue Jun 6 13:27:53 CEST 2006

On 6/06/2006 8:38 PM, bruno at modulix wrote:
> John Machin wrote:
>> On 5/06/2006 10:46 PM, Bruno Desthuilliers wrote:
>>> micklee74 at a écrit :
>>>> hi
>>>> in my code, i use dict(a) to make to "a" into a dictionary , "a" comes
>>>> from user input, so my program does not know in the first place. Then
>>>> say , it becomes
>>>> a = { '-A' : 'value1' , '-B' : "value2" , "-C" : "value3" , '-D' :
>>>> 'value4' }
>>>> somewhere next in my code, i will check for these..:
>>>> 1)  -A and -B cannot exist together
>>>> 2) -A and -C cannot exist together
>>>> 3) -A and -B and -D cannot exist together
>>>> 4) and lots of other combinations to check for....
>>> Looks like an option parser... If so, there's all you need in the
>>> standard lib (look for the optparse module).
>>>> how can i efficiently check for the above? At first as i do simple
>>>> checks , i use if and else.
>>>> But as i began to check for more combinatoiuns, it gets messy....
>>> First : use boolean logic (truth table, Kernaugh diagram, etc) to
>>> simplify things. As an example, rule #3 is useless - it's a subset of
>>> rule #1 (-A and -B and -D implies -A and -B). This should greatly
>>> reduce the number of needed tests.
>> Good idea, but doesn't scale well.
> Does it need to scale ? If there are lot of rules and frequently
> changing, yes, automating the process will be a good idea - but if it's
> about a program options, just using one's brain might be enough. At
> least it forces one to think about what's going on...
>> Simple code can weed out redundant
>> rules,
> Simple code can weed out redundant *simple* rules !-)
> (snip)
>>> Then, write a simple rule system describing either valid inputs or
>>> invalid inputs (preferably the smallest set !-). FWIW, it can be as
>>> simple as a list of lambdas/error messages pairs, with lambdas being
>>> predicate taking dict keys as params:
>>> _RULES = [
>>>   (lambda keys : '-A' in keys and '-B' in keys,
>>>    "can't have both options -A and -B"),
>>>   (lambda keys : '-A' in keys and '-C' in keys,
>>>    "can't have both options -A and -C"),
>>>   # etc...
>>> ]
>> The evil HR director won't let the PHB pay me on a per LOC basis, so
>> I've had to come up with a compact table-driven approach :-)
> <ot>I'm my own evil HR director and PHB  !-)</ot>

<ot> You must have some interesting conversations with yourself !-) </ot>

> Don't like table-driven programming, John ?

I love table-driven programming. You seem to misunderstand; In this case 
the "bad combos" list *is* the table.

> This solution takes very few lines, and while it's surely not a
> full-blown rule engine, it's at least reasonably flexible.
> (Not to say it's better than yours - it's of course a matter of
> effective use case).
> Nice code - but how does it handle more complex predicates ? Seems you
> can only deal with 'and' rules here.

More complex predicates are not in the OP's spec ... this is a defence I 
learned from somebody in this newsgroup recently :-)

> <nitpick>"Doesn't scale well", you
> said ?-)</nitpick>

I understand 'scale' to relate to size, not to complexity.


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