Is there a way to pass optional parameters to a function?


Question

Is there a way in Python to pass optional parameters to a function while calling it and in the function definition have some code based on "only if the optional parameter is passed"

1
122
10/31/2018 2:45:10 PM

Accepted Answer

The Python 2 documentation, 7.6. Function definitions gives you a couple of ways to detect whether a caller supplied an optional parameter.

First, you can use special formal parameter syntax *. If the function definition has a formal parameter preceded by a single *, then Python populates that parameter with any positional parameters that aren't matched by preceding formal parameters (as a tuple). If the function definition has a formal parameter preceded by **, then Python populates that parameter with any keyword parameters that aren't matched by preceding formal parameters (as a dict). The function's implementation can check the contents of these parameters for any "optional parameters" of the sort you want.

For instance, here's a function opt_fun which takes two positional parameters x1 and x2, and looks for another keyword parameter named "optional".

>>> def opt_fun(x1, x2, *positional_parameters, **keyword_parameters):
...     if ('optional' in keyword_parameters):
...         print 'optional parameter found, it is ', keyword_parameters['optional']
...     else:
...         print 'no optional parameter, sorry'
... 
>>> opt_fun(1, 2)
no optional parameter, sorry
>>> opt_fun(1,2, optional="yes")
optional parameter found, it is  yes
>>> opt_fun(1,2, another="yes")
no optional parameter, sorry

Second, you can supply a default parameter value of some value like None which a caller would never use. If the parameter has this default value, you know the caller did not specify the parameter. If the parameter has a non-default value, you know it came from the caller.

110
1/9/2016 6:24:10 AM

def my_func(mandatory_arg, optional_arg=100):
    print(mandatory_arg, optional_arg)

http://docs.python.org/2/tutorial/controlflow.html#default-argument-values

I find this more readable than using **kwargs.

To determine if an argument was passed at all, I use a custom utility object as the default value:

MISSING = object()

def func(arg=MISSING):
    if arg is MISSING:
        ...

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