Using String Methods In Jump Tables

Steven D'Aprano steve at
Fri Aug 20 02:23:57 CEST 2010

On Thu, 19 Aug 2010 18:27:11 -0500, Tim Daneliuk wrote:

> Problem:
>   Given tuples in the form (key, string), use 'key' to determine what
>   string method to apply to the string:

>>> table = {'l': str.lower, 'u': str.upper}
>>> table['u']('hello world')

> As I said, I know I could do this as a set of cascading ifs or even as
> an eval, but I'm loathe to use such approaches. I like jump tables as a
> structural construct because they are easy to understand and maintain. I
> also realize that what I'm asking may be violating some deeply held
> notion of OO purity, but, well, now I'm just curious if there is a way
> to do this

This is Python, not some "pure" OO language. We have functional 
programming constructs, procedural constructs, and probably other 
programming models as well. Screw the deeply held notion of OO purity :)

But seriously, Python's object model includes bound and unbound methods 
precisely so you can do this sort of thing, and the above table-based 
approach is very common and recommended as an alternative to case/switch 
statements. It's a very common Pythonic idiom, so never fear that people 
will stone you for using it.

The only thing that is a bit unusual is that you call it a jump table. In 
my experience, "Jump Table" is used for low-level languages where the 
table values are memory addresses.


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