[Tutor] Simple Question...

Rich Krauter rmkrauter at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 18 02:23:00 CEST 2004

Bill Mill wrote:
> OK, I posted a fortune file to my webserver. It's at
> http://llimllib.f2o.org/files/osfortune . I see 2 competitions:
> 1) fastest function to find a random line from the file; the catch is
> that this function must be able to pick a random line from anywhere in
> the file. It must be capable of returning the first line, the last
> line, and anything in between.
> 2) fastest function to count the lines in the file.

I doubt the following is the fastest on either point - just figured I'd 
post it since it uses built-in module linecache, which I haven't seen 
mentioned in this thread yet.

Just like some of the posted solutions, linecache reads the entire file 
into a list; that module's code may be of interest to those proposing 
that type of solution.

import random
import linecache

def getrandomline(fname,nlines):
     n = random.randint(0,nlines)
     return n,linecache.getline(fname,n)

def wcl(fname):
     # make sure file has been cached; to do so,
     # run linecache.getline() and discard result
     if not linecache.cache[fname]:
     # return number of lines in file
     return len(linecache.cache[fname][2])

if __name__ == '__main__':
     print getrandomline('junk.txt',wcl(fname))

The linecache module doesn't have a function to return the number of 
lines in a file; but it very easily could provide one since the cached 
file's lines are available in a list. I used that fact to count the 
number of lines, in wcl() above, rather than opening the file again to 
count its lines.


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