wim wim - 4 months ago 14
Python Question

Order of syntax for using 'not' and 'in' keywords

When testing for membership, we can use:

x not in y


Or alternatively:

not y in x


There can be many possible contexts for this expression, it could be for substring check, list membership, dictionary keys exist, etc.


  • Are the two forms always equivalent?

  • Is there a preferred syntax?


Ben Ben
Answer

They always give the same result.

In fact, not 'ham' in 'spam and eggs' appears to be special cased to perform a single "not in" operation, rather than an "in" operation and then negating the result:

>>> import dis

>>> def notin():
    'ham' not in 'spam and eggs'
>>> dis.dis(notin)
  2           0 LOAD_CONST               1 ('ham')
              3 LOAD_CONST               2 ('spam and eggs')
              6 COMPARE_OP               7 (not in)
              9 POP_TOP             
             10 LOAD_CONST               0 (None)
             13 RETURN_VALUE    

>>> def not_in():
    not 'ham' in 'spam and eggs'
>>> dis.dis(not_in)
  2           0 LOAD_CONST               1 ('ham')
              3 LOAD_CONST               2 ('spam and eggs')
              6 COMPARE_OP               7 (not in)
              9 POP_TOP             
             10 LOAD_CONST               0 (None)
             13 RETURN_VALUE    

>>> def not__in():
    not ('ham' in 'spam and eggs')
>>> dis.dis(not__in)
  2           0 LOAD_CONST               1 ('ham')
              3 LOAD_CONST               2 ('spam and eggs')
              6 COMPARE_OP               7 (not in)
              9 POP_TOP             
             10 LOAD_CONST               0 (None)
             13 RETURN_VALUE        

>>> def noteq():
    not 'ham' == 'spam and eggs'
>>> dis.dis(noteq)
  2           0 LOAD_CONST               1 ('ham')
              3 LOAD_CONST               2 ('spam and eggs')
              6 COMPARE_OP               2 (==)
              9 UNARY_NOT           
             10 POP_TOP             
             11 LOAD_CONST               0 (None)
             14 RETURN_VALUE      

I had thought at first that they always gave the same result, but that not on its own was simply a low precedence logical negation operator, which could be applied to a in b just as easily as any other boolean expression, whereas not in was a separate operator for convenience and clarity.

The disassembly above was revealing! It seems that while not obviously is a logical negation operator, the form not a in b is special cased so that it's not actually using the general operator. This makes not a in b literally the same expression as a not in b, rather than merely an expression that results in the same value.