Repeat string to certain length


What is an efficient way to repeat a string to a certain length? Eg: repeat('abc', 7) -> 'abcabca'

Here is my current code:

def repeat(string, length):
    cur, old = 1, string
    while len(string) < length:
        string += old[cur-1]
        cur = (cur+1)%len(old)
    return string

Is there a better (more pythonic) way to do this? Maybe using list comprehension?

8/2/2010 7:35:35 PM

Accepted Answer

def repeat_to_length(string_to_expand, length):
   return (string_to_expand * ((length/len(string_to_expand))+1))[:length]

For python3:

def repeat_to_length(string_to_expand, length):
    return (string_to_expand * (int(length/len(string_to_expand))+1))[:length]
11/23/2017 10:56:06 PM

Jason Scheirer's answer is correct but could use some more exposition.

First off, to repeat a string an integer number of times, you can use overloaded multiplication:

>>> 'abc' * 7

So, to repeat a string until it's at least as long as the length you want, you calculate the appropriate number of repeats and put it on the right-hand side of that multiplication operator:

def repeat_to_at_least_length(s, wanted):
    return s * (wanted//len(s) + 1)

>>> repeat_to_at_least_length('abc', 7)

Then, you can trim it to the exact length you want with an array slice:

def repeat_to_length(s, wanted):
    return (s * (wanted//len(s) + 1))[:wanted]

>>> repeat_to_length('abc', 7)

Alternatively, as suggested in pillmod's answer that probably nobody scrolls down far enough to notice anymore, you can use divmod to compute the number of full repetitions needed, and the number of extra characters, all at once:

def pillmod_repeat_to_length(s, wanted):
    a, b = divmod(wanted, len(s))
    return s * a + s[:b]

Which is better? Let's benchmark it:

>>> import timeit
>>> timeit.repeat('scheirer_repeat_to_length("abcdefg", 129)', globals=globals())
[0.3964178159367293, 0.32557755894958973, 0.32851039397064596]
>>> timeit.repeat('pillmod_repeat_to_length("abcdefg", 129)', globals=globals())
[0.5276265419088304, 0.46511475392617285, 0.46291469305288047]

So, pillmod's version is something like 40% slower, which is too bad, since personally I think it's much more readable. There are several possible reasons for this, starting with its compiling to about 40% more bytecode instructions.

Note: these examples use the new-ish // operator for truncating integer division. This is often called a Python 3 feature, but according to PEP 238, it was introduced all the way back in Python 2.2. You only have to use it in Python 3 (or in modules that have from __future__ import division) but you can use it regardless.

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