How to test multiple variables against a value?


Question

I'm trying to make a function that will compare multiple variables to an integer and output a string of three letters. I was wondering if there was a way to translate this into Python. So say:

x = 0
y = 1
z = 3
mylist = []

if x or y or z == 0 :
    mylist.append("c")
if x or y or z == 1 :
    mylist.append("d")
if x or y or z == 2 :
    mylist.append("e")
if x or y or z == 3 : 
    mylist.append("f")

which would return a list of

["c", "d", "f"]

Is something like this possible?

1
578
2/4/2019 8:55:29 AM

Accepted Answer

You misunderstand how boolean expressions work; they don't work like an English sentence and guess that you are talking about the same comparison for all names here. You are looking for:

if x == 1 or y == 1 or z == 1:

x and y are otherwise evaluated on their own (False if 0, True otherwise).

You can shorten that using a containment test against a tuple:

if 1 in (x, y, z):

or better still:

if 1 in {x, y, z}:

using a set to take advantage of the constant-cost membership test (in takes a fixed amount of time whatever the left-hand operand is).

When you use or, python sees each side of the operator as separate expressions. The expression x or y == 1 is treated as first a boolean test for x, then if that is False, the expression y == 1 is tested.

This is due to operator precedence. The or operator has a lower precedence than the == test, so the latter is evaluated first.

However, even if this were not the case, and the expression x or y or z == 1 was actually interpreted as (x or y or z) == 1 instead, this would still not do what you expect it to do.

x or y or z would evaluate to the first argument that is 'truthy', e.g. not False, numeric 0 or empty (see boolean expressions for details on what Python considers false in a boolean context).

So for the values x = 2; y = 1; z = 0, x or y or z would resolve to 2, because that is the first true-like value in the arguments. Then 2 == 1 would be False, even though y == 1 would be True.

The same would apply to the inverse; testing multiple values against a single variable; x == 1 or 2 or 3 would fail for the same reasons. Use x == 1 or x == 2 or x == 3 or x in {1, 2, 3}.

756
3/12/2018 7:56:00 PM

Your problem is more easily addressed with a dictionary structure like:

x = 0
y = 1
z = 3
d = {0: 'c', 1:'d', 2:'e', 3:'f'}
mylist = [d[k] for k in [x, y, z]]

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