max(), sum(), next()

Tino Wildenhain tino at
Thu Sep 11 04:51:11 EDT 2008


Luis Zarrabeitia wrote:
> Quoting Laszlo Nagy <gandalf at>:
> Even better:
> help(sum) shows
> ===
> sum(...)
>     sum(sequence, start=0) -> value
>     Returns the sum of a sequence of numbers (NOT strings) plus the value
>     of parameter 'start'.  When the sequence is empty, returns start.
> ===
> so the fact that sum([]) returns zero is just because the start value is zero...
> sum([],object()) would return an object().
> BTW, the original code:
>>>> sum(s for s in ["a", "b"] if len(s) > 2)
> wouldn't work anyway... it seems that sum doesn't like to sum strings:
>>>> sum(['a','b'],'')
> <type 'exceptions.TypeError'>: sum() can't sum strings [use ''.join(seq) instead]

Yes which is a bit bad anyway. I don't think hard wiring it is such a 
nice idea. You know, walks like a duck, smells like a duck...
If it makes sense to handle things differently for performance, then
please have it doing it silently, e.g. when it detects strings just
use join() internally.

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