unpacking first few items of iterable
tjreedy at udel.edu
Thu Dec 13 22:36:58 CET 2012
On 12/13/2012 3:09 PM, MRAB wrote:
> On 2012-12-13 19:37, Daniel Fetchinson wrote:
>> Hi folks, I swear I used to know this but can't find it anywhere:
>> What's the standard idiom for unpacking the first few items of an
>> iterable whose total length is unknown?
An hinted by some of the answers, this is not a complete specification.
>> Something like
>> a, b, c, _ = myiterable
>> where _ could eat up a variable number of items, in case I'm only
>> interested in the first 3 items?
The literal answer given by demian, a,b,c,*_=iterable, has some good
uses but fails on an infinite iterable, and otherwise exhausts iterators
and creates a potentially long sequence that, by the specification, is
not needed. Mitya's alternative of slicing, seq[:3] requires a directly
sliceable sequence rather than just an iterable.
> You could do this:
> from itertools import islice
> a, b, c = islice(myiterable, 3)
This works for any iterable and the only discarded temporary is a
sequence of three items (needed so either all bindings work or none are
If you want to bind a default values if iterable has less than 3 values,
one way is
>>> a,b,c = itertools.islice(itertools.chain(itertools.islice((1,2),
3), [None]*3), 3)
(1, 2, None)
Perhaps clearer is
>>> a,b,c = [None]*3
>>> it = iter((1,2))
a = next(it)
b = next(it)
c = next(it)
(1, 2, None)
This has the advantage that if iterable has more than 3 items, 'it' is
available to iterate over the rest. This is the standard idiom for
removing a couple of special items before iterating over the remainder
(when one does not want the remainder as a concrete list).
Terry Jan Reedy
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