Perl's @foo[3,7,1,-1] ?

Nick Craig-Wood nick at
Sat Jun 13 21:29:34 CEST 2009

kj < at> wrote:
>  Switching from Perl here, and having a hard time letting go...
>  Suppose I have an "array" foo, and that I'm interested in the 4th, 8th,
>  second, and last element in that array.  In Perl I could write:
>    my @wanted = @foo[3, 7, 1, -1];
>  I was a bit surprised when I got this in Python:
> >>> wanted = foo[3, 7, 1, -1]
>  Traceback (most recent call last):
>    File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
>  TypeError: list indices must be integers

You've just tried to index a list with a tuple...

If foo was a dictionary then this might make sense.

>  Granted, Perl's syntax is often obscure and hard-to-read, but in
>  this particular case I find it quite transparent and unproblematic,
>  and the fictional "pythonized" form above even more so.
>  The best I've been able to come up with in Python are the somewhat
>  Perl-like-in-its-obscurity:
> >>> wanted = map(foo.__getitem__, (3, 7, 1, -1))
>  or the clearer but unaccountably sesquipedalian
> >>> wanted = [foo[i] for i in 3, 7, 1, -1]
> >>> wanted = [foo[3], foo[7], foo[7], foo[-1]]
>  Are these the most idiomatically pythonic forms?  Or am I missing
>  something better?

Firstly run "import this" at the python interactive interpreter to
remind youself of the philosophical differences between perl and
python.  I think the philosophy of python is the major reason why it
is such a good language.

As I transitioned from perl to python it took me a while to let go of
perlisms, and get used to writing a little bit more code (usually of
the order of a few characters only) but which was much much clearer.

Perl is full of cleverness which give you great pleasure to write as a
programmer.  However when you or someone else looks at that code later
they don't get that same pleasure - horror is more likely the
reaction!  Python just isn't like that.

I'd probably write

  wanted = foo[3], foo[7], foo[1], foo[-1]

(assuming you didn't mind having a tuple rather than a list)

or maybe this

  wanted = [ foo[i] for i in 3, 7, 1, -1 ]

However I can't think of the last time I wanted to do this - array
elements having individual purposes are usually a sign that you should
be using a different data structure.

Nick Craig-Wood <nick at> --

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