Multiple character replace with Python


Question

I need to replace some characters as follows: & -> \&, # -> \#, ...

I coded as follows, but I guess there should be some better way. Any hints?

strs = strs.replace('&', '\&')
strs = strs.replace('#', '\#')
...
1
141
6/2/2017 3:09:13 PM

Accepted Answer

Replacing two characters

I timed all the methods in the current answers along with one extra.

With an input string of abc&def#ghi and replacing & -> \& and # -> #, the fastest was to chain together the replacements like: text.replace('&', '\&').replace('#', '\#').

Timings for each function:

  • a) 1000000 loops, best of 3: 1.47 μs per loop
  • b) 1000000 loops, best of 3: 1.51 μs per loop
  • c) 100000 loops, best of 3: 12.3 μs per loop
  • d) 100000 loops, best of 3: 12 μs per loop
  • e) 100000 loops, best of 3: 3.27 μs per loop
  • f) 1000000 loops, best of 3: 0.817 μs per loop
  • g) 100000 loops, best of 3: 3.64 μs per loop
  • h) 1000000 loops, best of 3: 0.927 μs per loop
  • i) 1000000 loops, best of 3: 0.814 μs per loop

Here are the functions:

def a(text):
    chars = "&#"
    for c in chars:
        text = text.replace(c, "\\" + c)


def b(text):
    for ch in ['&','#']:
        if ch in text:
            text = text.replace(ch,"\\"+ch)


import re
def c(text):
    rx = re.compile('([&#])')
    text = rx.sub(r'\\\1', text)


RX = re.compile('([&#])')
def d(text):
    text = RX.sub(r'\\\1', text)


def mk_esc(esc_chars):
    return lambda s: ''.join(['\\' + c if c in esc_chars else c for c in s])
esc = mk_esc('&#')
def e(text):
    esc(text)


def f(text):
    text = text.replace('&', '\&').replace('#', '\#')


def g(text):
    replacements = {"&": "\&", "#": "\#"}
    text = "".join([replacements.get(c, c) for c in text])


def h(text):
    text = text.replace('&', r'\&')
    text = text.replace('#', r'\#')


def i(text):
    text = text.replace('&', r'\&').replace('#', r'\#')

Timed like this:

python -mtimeit -s"import time_functions" "time_functions.a('abc&def#ghi')"
python -mtimeit -s"import time_functions" "time_functions.b('abc&def#ghi')"
python -mtimeit -s"import time_functions" "time_functions.c('abc&def#ghi')"
python -mtimeit -s"import time_functions" "time_functions.d('abc&def#ghi')"
python -mtimeit -s"import time_functions" "time_functions.e('abc&def#ghi')"
python -mtimeit -s"import time_functions" "time_functions.f('abc&def#ghi')"
python -mtimeit -s"import time_functions" "time_functions.g('abc&def#ghi')"
python -mtimeit -s"import time_functions" "time_functions.h('abc&def#ghi')"
python -mtimeit -s"import time_functions" "time_functions.i('abc&def#ghi')"

Replacing 17 characters

Here's similar code to do the same but with more characters to escape (\`*_{}>#+-.!$):

def a(text):
    chars = "\\`*_{}[]()>#+-.!$"
    for c in chars:
        text = text.replace(c, "\\" + c)


def b(text):
    for ch in ['\\','`','*','_','{','}','[',']','(',')','>','#','+','-','.','!','$','\'']:
        if ch in text:
            text = text.replace(ch,"\\"+ch)


import re
def c(text):
    rx = re.compile('([&#])')
    text = rx.sub(r'\\\1', text)


RX = re.compile('([\\`*_{}[]()>#+-.!$])')
def d(text):
    text = RX.sub(r'\\\1', text)


def mk_esc(esc_chars):
    return lambda s: ''.join(['\\' + c if c in esc_chars else c for c in s])
esc = mk_esc('\\`*_{}[]()>#+-.!$')
def e(text):
    esc(text)


def f(text):
    text = text.replace('\\', '\\\\').replace('`', '\`').replace('*', '\*').replace('_', '\_').replace('{', '\{').replace('}', '\}').replace('[', '\[').replace(']', '\]').replace('(', '\(').replace(')', '\)').replace('>', '\>').replace('#', '\#').replace('+', '\+').replace('-', '\-').replace('.', '\.').replace('!', '\!').replace('$', '\$')


def g(text):
    replacements = {
        "\\": "\\\\",
        "`": "\`",
        "*": "\*",
        "_": "\_",
        "{": "\{",
        "}": "\}",
        "[": "\[",
        "]": "\]",
        "(": "\(",
        ")": "\)",
        ">": "\>",
        "#": "\#",
        "+": "\+",
        "-": "\-",
        ".": "\.",
        "!": "\!",
        "$": "\$",
    }
    text = "".join([replacements.get(c, c) for c in text])


def h(text):
    text = text.replace('\\', r'\\')
    text = text.replace('`', r'\`')
    text = text.replace('*', r'\*')
    text = text.replace('_', r'\_')
    text = text.replace('{', r'\{')
    text = text.replace('}', r'\}')
    text = text.replace('[', r'\[')
    text = text.replace(']', r'\]')
    text = text.replace('(', r'\(')
    text = text.replace(')', r'\)')
    text = text.replace('>', r'\>')
    text = text.replace('#', r'\#')
    text = text.replace('+', r'\+')
    text = text.replace('-', r'\-')
    text = text.replace('.', r'\.')
    text = text.replace('!', r'\!')
    text = text.replace('$', r'\$')


def i(text):
    text = text.replace('\\', r'\\').replace('`', r'\`').replace('*', r'\*').replace('_', r'\_').replace('{', r'\{').replace('}', r'\}').replace('[', r'\[').replace(']', r'\]').replace('(', r'\(').replace(')', r'\)').replace('>', r'\>').replace('#', r'\#').replace('+', r'\+').replace('-', r'\-').replace('.', r'\.').replace('!', r'\!').replace('$', r'\$')

Here's the results for the same input string abc&def#ghi:

  • a) 100000 loops, best of 3: 6.72 μs per loop
  • b) 100000 loops, best of 3: 2.64 μs per loop
  • c) 100000 loops, best of 3: 11.9 μs per loop
  • d) 100000 loops, best of 3: 4.92 μs per loop
  • e) 100000 loops, best of 3: 2.96 μs per loop
  • f) 100000 loops, best of 3: 4.29 μs per loop
  • g) 100000 loops, best of 3: 4.68 μs per loop
  • h) 100000 loops, best of 3: 4.73 μs per loop
  • i) 100000 loops, best of 3: 4.24 μs per loop

And with a longer input string (## *Something* and [another] thing in a longer sentence with {more} things to replace$):

  • a) 100000 loops, best of 3: 7.59 μs per loop
  • b) 100000 loops, best of 3: 6.54 μs per loop
  • c) 100000 loops, best of 3: 16.9 μs per loop
  • d) 100000 loops, best of 3: 7.29 μs per loop
  • e) 100000 loops, best of 3: 12.2 μs per loop
  • f) 100000 loops, best of 3: 5.38 μs per loop
  • g) 10000 loops, best of 3: 21.7 μs per loop
  • h) 100000 loops, best of 3: 5.7 μs per loop
  • i) 100000 loops, best of 3: 5.13 μs per loop

Adding a couple of variants:

def ab(text):
    for ch in ['\\','`','*','_','{','}','[',']','(',')','>','#','+','-','.','!','$','\'']:
        text = text.replace(ch,"\\"+ch)


def ba(text):
    chars = "\\`*_{}[]()>#+-.!$"
    for c in chars:
        if c in text:
            text = text.replace(c, "\\" + c)

With the shorter input:

  • ab) 100000 loops, best of 3: 7.05 μs per loop
  • ba) 100000 loops, best of 3: 2.4 μs per loop

With the longer input:

  • ab) 100000 loops, best of 3: 7.71 μs per loop
  • ba) 100000 loops, best of 3: 6.08 μs per loop

So I'm going to use ba for readability and speed.

Addendum

Prompted by haccks in the comments, one difference between ab and ba is the if c in text: check. Let's test them against two more variants:

def ab_with_check(text):
    for ch in ['\\','`','*','_','{','}','[',']','(',')','>','#','+','-','.','!','$','\'']:
        if ch in text:
            text = text.replace(ch,"\\"+ch)

def ba_without_check(text):
    chars = "\\`*_{}[]()>#+-.!$"
    for c in chars:
        text = text.replace(c, "\\" + c)

Times in μs per loop on Python 2.7.14 and 3.6.3, and on a different machine from the earlier set, so cannot be compared directly.

╭────────────╥──────┬───────────────┬──────┬──────────────────╮
│ Py, input  ║  ab  │ ab_with_check │  ba  │ ba_without_check │
╞════════════╬══════╪═══════════════╪══════╪══════════════════╡
│ Py2, short ║ 8.81 │    4.22       │ 3.45 │    8.01          │
│ Py3, short ║ 5.54 │    1.34       │ 1.46 │    5.34          │
├────────────╫──────┼───────────────┼──────┼──────────────────┤
│ Py2, long  ║ 9.3  │    7.15       │ 6.85 │    8.55          │
│ Py3, long  ║ 7.43 │    4.38       │ 4.41 │    7.02          │
└────────────╨──────┴───────────────┴──────┴──────────────────┘

We can conclude that:

  • Those with the check are up to 4x faster than those without the check

  • ab_with_check is slightly in the lead on Python 3, but ba (with check) has a greater lead on Python 2

  • However, the biggest lesson here is Python 3 is up to 3x faster than Python 2! There's not a huge difference between the slowest on Python 3 and fastest on Python 2!

326
10/29/2017 7:01:17 AM

>>> string="abc&def#ghi"
>>> for ch in ['&','#']:
...   if ch in string:
...      string=string.replace(ch,"\\"+ch)
...
>>> print string
abc\&def\#ghi

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