python – What is key=lambda

python – What is key=lambda

A lambda is an anonymous function:

>>> f = lambda: foo
>>> print f()
foo

It is often used in functions such as sorted() that take a callable as a parameter (often the key keyword parameter). You could provide an existing function instead of a lambda there too, as long as it is a callable object.

Take the sorted() function as an example. Itll return the given iterable in sorted order:

>>> sorted([Some, words, sort, differently])
[Some, differently, sort, words]

but that sorts uppercased words before words that are lowercased. Using the key keyword you can change each entry so itll be sorted differently. We could lowercase all the words before sorting, for example:

>>> def lowercased(word): return word.lower()
...
>>> lowercased(Some)
some
>>> sorted([Some, words, sort, differently], key=lowercased)
[differently, Some, sort, words]

We had to create a separate function for that, we could not inline the def lowercased() line into the sorted() expression:

>>> sorted([Some, words, sort, differently], key=def lowercased(word): return word.lower())
  File <stdin>, line 1
    sorted([Some, words, sort, differently], key=def lowercased(word): return word.lower())
                                                           ^
SyntaxError: invalid syntax

A lambda on the other hand, can be specified directly, inline in the sorted() expression:

 >>> sorted([Some, words, sort, differently], key=lambda word: word.lower())
[differently, Some, sort, words]

Lambdas are limited to one expression only, the result of which is the return value.

There are loads of places in the Python library, including built-in functions, that take a callable as keyword or positional argument. There are too many to name here, and they often play a different role.

In Python, lambda is a keyword used to define anonymous functions(functions with no name) and thats why they are known as lambda functions.

Basically it is used for defining anonymous functions that can/cant take argument(s) and returns value of data/expression. Lets see an example.

>>> # Defining a lambda function that takes 2 parameters(as integer) and returns their sum
... 
>>> lambda num1, num2: num1 + num2 
<function <lambda> at 0x1004b5de8>
>>> 
>>> # Lets store the returned value in variable & call it(1st way to call)
... 
>>> addition = lambda num1, num2: num1 + num2
>>> addition(62, 5)
67
>>> addition(1700, 29)
1729
>>> 
>>> # Lets call it in other way(2nd way to call, one line call )
... 
>>> (lambda num1, num2: num1 + num2)(120, 1)
121
>>> (lambda num1, num2: num1 + num2)(-68, 2)
-66
>>> (lambda num1, num2: num1 + num2)(-68, 2**3)
-60
>>> 

Now let me give an answer of your 2nd question. The 1st answer is also great. This is my own way to explain with another example.

Suppose we have a list of items(integers and strings with numeric contents) as follows,

nums = [2, 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, -1, -10]

and I want to sort it using sorted() function, lets see what happens.

>>> nums = [2, 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, -1, -10]
>>> sorted(nums)
[1, 3, 4, -1, -10, 2, 5, 8]
>>>

It didnt give me what I expected as I wanted like below,

[-10, -1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8]

It means we need some strategy(so that sorted could treat our string items as an ints) to achieve this. This is why the key keyword argument is used. Please look at the below one.

>>> nums = [2, 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, -1, -10]
>>> sorted(nums, key=int)
[-10, -1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8]
>>> 

Lets use lambda function as a value of key

>>> names = [Rishikesh, aman, Ajay, Hemkesh, sandeep, Darshan, Virendra, Shwetabh]
>>> names2 = sorted(names)
>>> names2
[Ajay, Darshan, Hemkesh, Rishikesh, Shwetabh, Virendra, aman, sandeep]
>>> # But I dont want this o/p(here our intention is to treat a same as A)
...
>>> names3 = sorted(names, key=lambda name:name.lower())
>>> names3
[Ajay, aman, Darshan, Hemkesh, Rishikesh, sandeep, Shwetabh, Virendra]
>>>

You can define your own function(callable) and provide it as value of key.

Dear programers, I have written the below code for you, just try to understand it and comment your explanation. I would be glad to see your explanation(its simple).

>>> def validator(item):
...     try:
...         return int(item)
...     except:
...         return 0
... 
>>> sorted([gurmit, 0, 5, 2, 1, front, -2, great], key=validator)
[-2, gurmit, 0, front, great, 1, 2, 5]
>>>

I hope it would be useful.

python – What is key=lambda

Lambda can be any function. So if you had a function

def compare_person(a):
         return a.age

You could sort a list of Person (each of which having an age attribute) like this:

sorted(personArray, key=compare_person)

This way, the list would be sorted by age in ascending order.

The parameter is called lambda because python has a nifty lambda keywords for defining such functions on the fly. Instead of defining a function compare_person and passing that to sorted, you can also write:

sorted(personArray, key=lambda a: a.age)

which does the same thing.

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