any(), all() and empty iterable

Tim Chase python.list at
Sun Apr 12 15:49:29 CEST 2009

Arnaud Delobelle wrote:
> Paul Rubin <> writes:
>> Tim Chase <python.list at> writes:
>>>>                 Return True if all elements of the iterable are
>>>> true. ...
>>> Then I'd say the comment is misleading.  An empty list has no item
>>> that is true (or false), yet it returns true. 
>> The comment is correct.  "All the items of the iterable are true"
>> means EXACTLY the same thing as "there are no items of the iterable
>> that are false".  The empty list has no false items.  Therefore
>> all(empty_list) = True is the correct behavior.
>> Another possible implementation:
>>     import operator,itertools
>>     def all(xs):
>>          return reduce(operator.and_, itertools.imap(bool, xs), True)
> A contest! My entry:
> def all(iterable):
>     return not sum(not x for x in iterable)

Problem with both entries:  short-circuit evaluation.

   def test_me(how_many=99999999999999999):
     yield False
     for _ in xrange(how_many): yield True
   print all(test_me())

The stdlib version wisely bails on the first False.  A 
particularly useful aspect when test_me() does something 

  def test_me(times=100)
    for _ in xrange(times):
      yield some_long_running_process_that_usually_returns_false()

where that process may do something like slurp a web-page across 
the planet, or calculate some expensive expression.


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