Attribution of above image
I was checking out the repr() and __repr__() functions / methods of Python (in the process of creating an exercise for one of my students), when I came across this interesting 'feature' of Python:
I did this at the Python interpreter prompt (in both 2.7 and 3.4):
>>> ''.__repr__() # Call the dunder repr method on an empty string.
(Got the expected output - the representation of the empty string.)
Similarly for a list, a tuple, etc.:
But when I did this:
I got this:
File "<stdin>", line 1
SyntaxError: invalid syntax
So, it looks like Python does not know the meaning of life :-)
Jokes apart, I also tried this (actually, before trying 42):
which worked. And the only difference between the example above that worked (1.0), and the two that did not (1 or 42), is that the latter two use an int, and the former uses a number with a decimal point.
But both also use the dot as the attribute access operator, which leads me to think that this is the reason for the issue (for ints): there is an ambiguity between interpreting 1.something as 1.other_decimal_digits (making it a floating point number) and as 1.some_attribute (making it an attribute access on an object) (because 1, like (almost) everything in Python, is an object (of type int), as can be seen by doing:
Interested to know if anyone has a better explanation of this, and also of whether the same issue/anomaly, if it is one, occurs in any other languages, or if not, why not.
- Vasudev Ram - Online Python training and programming Signup to hear about new products and services I create. Posts about Python Posts about xtopdf My ActiveState recipes