The Best Python Tricks for Beginner Programmers

The Best Python Tricks for Beginner Programmers

  • Jul, 29 2023

Unwrapping the Power of List Comprehensions

As much as I love preparing meals for my husband, Daniel, and our children, Oliver and Amelia, I adore learning more about Python, my programming language of choice, just as much. Techniques for shortening codes, especially for beginners, provide a sense of satisfaction akin to seeing Oliver's eyes light up at his favorite macaroni dish. One such method you must learn as an aspiring programmer is list comprehensions.

Regard list comprehensions as a tray bake recipe, where we add all ingredients at once, eliminating the need for lengthy for-loops that resemble prepping ingredients one-by-one. Say for instance, we want to return a list of the numbers 0 through 9, with each square. The for-loop method would be:

result = []
for i in range(10):

However, utilizing list comprehensions, we can make this code tidier:

result = [i**2 for i in range(10)]

You see? It's as easy as preparing frozen dumplings for dinner. List comprehensions are vital as they save space and are more efficient. Besides, who doesn’t love cleaner and faster code?

Getting Cozy with Lambda Functions

The Lambda keyword in Python provides a shortcut to create small anonymous functions. These functions are nameless wonders fitting in one-liners, like a sweet little note tucked into Oliver’s lunchbox.

Imagine defining a function to square a number using the usual method. We would use the 'def' keyword:

def square_num(x):
    return x ** 2

Now, let's say we want to use this for a small task, so creating a full-fledged function seems overkill. Lambda functions come to our rescue here, like that tub of ice cream on a hot summer’s day in Sydney:

square_num = lambda x: x ** 2

Voila! We have successfully defined our function using lambda. This makes our code look efficient and crisper, like a fresh salad on a bright Sunday afternoon.

Conquering Conditionals in One Line

Remember how I get Amelia to eat her spinach by making it fun and relating it to her favorite cartoon? That’s exactly what we can do with conditional statements in Python. Many times, we use if-else statements for checking conditions and decision making. But did you know we can write them in one line? Yes, just like that one-line joke that Daniel cracks to break the ice at dinners.

Here's how we generally use an if-else statement:

if (condition):

Condensing this into a one-liner:

action1 if condition else action2

Isn’t it neat? It's like cleaning up the kid’s toys in one fast swoop.

Becoming Friends with the Map Function

Programming and parenting have a lot in common: both involve finding creative solutions to everyday problems. Just like I use a fun map to get Oliver and Amelia intrigued about geography, 'map' in Python acts as a simplified way to apply a function to a list.

Consider we want to double each element in a list. We could use a for-loop:

nums = [1, 2, 3]
doubled = []
for num in nums:
    doubled.append(num * 2)

But we can save time and code by using 'map'—like using Google maps instead of reading tedious instructions:

nums = [1, 2, 3]
doubled = list(map(lambda x: x*2, nums))

The use of 'map' makes the code much cleaner and easier to comprehend. This is the Pythonic way. Embrace it.

Joining in on the Fun with str.join()

Much like the joy I feel when the whole family joins hands for dinner, Python presents a 'str.join()' method that connects all items in an iterable with a specific string. This method can become your best friend when dealing with multiple strings or list items.

For instance, if we have a list of strings we want to join with a comma:

fruits = ['apple', 'banana', 'cherry']
fruit_sentence = ', '.join(fruits)

And just like that, our list becomes one string: "apple, banana, cherry". It’s a neat little trick, isn’t it?

Sorting Like There’s No Tomorrow with sorted()

Sometimes, coding can be as messy as my kitchen counter on a baking day, but Python's built-in 'sorted()' function allows us to sort lists with ease. This versatile function not only handles lists but also tuples and dictionaries, making it as multitalented as Amelia juggling dance and violin lessons.

It’s fairly simple to use, just like your favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe:

nums = [5, 1, 9, 3]
sorted_nums = sorted(nums)

And there! We have a nicely sorted list: [1,3,5,9] in just a single line of code.

Debugging with the assert Keyword

Just as I assure that Oliver and Amelia have done their homework, Python provides an 'assert' keyword to affirm that a certain condition is met. If it is, nothing happens, and the program continues. The 'assert' keyword is especially useful in debugging your code.

Here's how it works:

assert condition, message

If the given condition evaluates to False, it raises an AssertionError with the specified message, making it easier to locate and fix the problem, giving you more time to live your life - like catching up on that book you've been meaning to read!

These Python tricks are like little nuggets of wisdom that can make your coding journey a bit more fun and a lot more efficient. Just like how Daniel and I learn parenting tricks to navigate through raising Oliver and Amelia, these coding tricks will certainly make your programming experience smoother. So, grab your cup of coffee and get ready for a fantastic coding journey with Python!