Function

A function can help programmers to wrap their logic into a task for avoiding duplicate code. In Python, the definition of a function is so versatile that we can use many features such as decorator, annotation, docstrings, default arguments and so on to define a function. In this cheat sheet, it collects many ways to define a function and demystifies some enigmatic syntax in functions.

Document Functions

Documentation provides programmers hints about how a function is supposed to be used. A docstring gives an expedient way to write a readable document of functions. PEP 257 defines some conventions of docstrings. In order to avoid violating conventions, there are several tools such as doctest, or pydocstyle can help us check the format of docstrings.

>>> def example():
...   """This is an example function."""
...   print("Example function")
...
>>> example.__doc__
'This is an example function.'
>>> help(example)

Default Arguments

Defining a function where the arguments are optional and have a default value is quite simple in Python. We can just assign values in the definition and make sure the default arguments appear in the end.

>>> def add(a, b=0):
...     return a + b
...
>>> add(1)
1
>>> add(1, 2)
3
>>> add(1, b=2)
3

Option Arguments

>>> def example(a, b=None, *args, **kwargs):
...     print(a, b)
...     print(args)
...     print(kwargs)
...
>>> example(1, "var", 2, 3, word="hello")
1 var
(2, 3)
{'word': 'hello'}

Unpack Arguments

>>> def foo(a, b, c='BAZ'):
...     print(a, b, c)
...
>>> foo(*("FOO", "BAR"), **{"c": "baz"})
FOO BAR baz

Keyword-Only Arguments

New in Python 3.0

>>> def f(a, b, *, kw):
...     print(a, b, kw)
...
>>> f(1, 2, kw=3)
1 2 3
>>> f(1, 2, 3)
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
TypeError: f() takes 2 positional arguments but 3 were given

Annotations

New in Python 3.0

Annotations can be a useful way to give programmers hints about types of arguments. The specification of this feature is on PEP 3107. Python 3.5 introduced typing module to extend the concept of type hints. Moreover, from version 3.6, Python started to offer a general way to define a variable with an annotation. Further information can be found on PEP 483, PEP 484, and PEP 526.

>>> def fib(n: int) -> int:
...     a, b = 0, 1
...     for _ in range(n):
...         b, a = a + b, b
...     return a
...
>>> fib(10)
55
>>> fib.__annotations__
{'n': <class 'int'>, 'return': <class 'int'>}

Callable

In some cases such as passing a callback function, we need to check whether an object is callable or not. The built-in function, callable, assist us to avoid raising a TypeError if the object is not callable.

>>> a = 10
>>> def fun():
...   print("I am callable")
...
>>> callable(a)
False
>>> callable(fun)
True

Get Function Name

>>> def example_function():
...   pass
...
>>> example_function.__name__
'example_function'

Lambda

Sometimes, we don’t want to use the def statement to define a short callback function. We can use a lambda expression as a shortcut to define an anonymous or an inline function instead. However, only one single expression can be specified in lambda. That is, no other features such as multi-line statements, conditions, or exception handling can be contained.

>>> fn = lambda x: x**2
>>> fn(3)
9
>>> (lambda x: x**2)(3)
9
>>> (lambda x: [x*_ for _ in range(5)])(2)
[0, 2, 4, 6, 8]
>>> (lambda x: x if x>3 else 3)(5)
5

Generator

>>> def fib(n):
...     a, b = 0, 1
...     for _ in range(n):
...         yield a
...         b, a = a + b, b
...
>>> [f for f in fib(10)]
[0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34]

Decorator

New in Python 2.4

  • PEP 318 - Decorators for Functions and Methods
>>> from functools import wraps
>>> def decorator(func):
...     @wraps(func)
...     def wrapper(*args, **kwargs):
...         print("Before calling {}.".format(func.__name__))
...         ret = func(*args, **kwargs)
...         print("After calling {}.".format(func.__name__))
...         return ret
...     return wrapper
...
>>> @decorator
... def example():
...     print("Inside example function.")
...
>>> example()
Before calling example.
Inside example function.
After calling example.

Equals to

... def example():
...     print("Inside example function.")
...
>>> example = decorator(example)
>>> example()
Before calling example.
Inside example function.
After calling example.

Decorator with Arguments

>>> from functools import wraps
>>> def decorator_with_argument(val):
...     def decorator(func):
...         @wraps(func)
...         def wrapper(*args, **kwargs):
...             print("Val is {0}".format(val))
...             return func(*args, **kwargs)
...         return wrapper
...     return decorator
...
>>> @decorator_with_argument(10)
... def example():
...     print("This is example function.")
...
>>> example()
Val is 10
This is example function.

Equals to

>>> def example():
...     print("This is example function.")
...
>>> example = decorator_with_argument(10)(example)
>>> example()
Val is 10
This is example function.

Cache

New in Python 3.2

Without Cache

>>> import time
>>> def fib(n):
...     if n < 2:
...         return n
...     return fib(n - 1) + fib(n - 2)
...
>>> s = time.time(); _ = fib(32); e = time.time(); e - s
1.1562161445617676

With Cache (dynamic programming)

>>> from functools import lru_cache
>>> @lru_cache(maxsize=None)
... def fib(n):
...     if n < 2:
...         return n
...     return fib(n - 1) + fib(n - 2)
...
>>> s = time.time(); _ = fib(32); e = time.time(); e - s
2.9087066650390625e-05
>>> fib.cache_info()
CacheInfo(hits=30, misses=33, maxsize=None, currsize=33)