Thursday, September 4, 2014

Python Idiom: First Occurence

Finding the first occurrence in a collection of data is a common problem. 

# Non Idiomatic
found_line = None
for line in logfile:
   if regex.match(line):
      found_line = line
return found_line

Compared to

# Idiomatic
return next(line for line in logfile if regex.match(line), None)


# Idiomatic (thanks to Suresh V)
from itertools import dropwhile
return next(dropwhile(lambda x: not regex.match(x), logfile), None)

The idiomatic solution is not only more compact, but it reads better.   It also gives the interpreter the opportunity to be more efficient in how it allocates memory due to the generator expression