A Universe Set

Duncan Booth duncan.booth at invalid.invalid
Thu Oct 5 10:03:04 CEST 2006

Wildemar Wildenburger <wildemar at freakmail.de> wrote:

> Jorgen Grahn wrote:
>> - the wildcard object, which compares equal to everything else
>> - infinite xrange()s
>> - the black hole function 'def f(*args): pass'
>> - the identity function 'def f(x): return x'
> Any use cases for these?

I guess the first one could be useful if you want to compare two data 
structures but prune part of the structure in the comparison (e.g. in a 
unit test assertion). So not forgetting that this only works when the 
wildcard is on the left of the comparison:

>>> class DontCareClass(object):
	def __eq__(self, other):
		return True

>>> dontcare = DontCareClass()
>>> [1, dontcare, 3]==[1, 2, 3]
>>> [1, dontcare, 3]==[1, 4, 3]
>>> [1, dontcare, 3]==[1, 4, 2]

I think for more general use though it's a non-starter. If Python had it 
builtin it should compare equal in *all* situations and what on earth 
should aDict[dontcare] do?

I can think of one use for a black hole function, but it is very specific. 
It would be kind of nice to have a variation on 'super' which traps 
AttributeError and returns the black hole instead, or perhaps just an 
optional third argument for a default to return (c.f. dict.get). So you 
could write:

class C(object):
	def method(self, arg):
		super(C, self, blackhole).method(arg)
		... whatever ...

and method would call any base class definition of method but not care if 
there isn't one. The alternative to this is either to catch and ignore the 
exception (which is a pain), or better to create a dummy base class which 
implements the interface but doesn't propagate the calls.

I suppose the same argument could be made for any pattern of calling the 
result of getattr when the attribute might not exist. Replace:

    m = getattr(obj, key, None)
    if m is not None:

   if hasattr(obj, 'somekey'):


    getattr(obj, key, blackhole)(something)

The catch here is that the current pattern often has an 'else' clause as 
well and you can't replace those ones with blackhole.

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