Giacomo d'Antonio Giacomo d'Antonio - 2 months ago 33
Python Question

python head and tail in one line

Is there a pythonic way of unpack a list in the first element and the "tail" in a single command?

For example:

>> head, tail = **some_magic applied to** [1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55]
>> head
1
>>> tail
[1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55]

Answer

Under Python 3.x, you can do this nicely:

>>> head, *tail = [1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55]
>>> head
1
>>> tail
[1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55]

A new feature in 3.x is to use the * operator in unpacking, to mean any extra values. It is described in PEP 3132 - Extended Iterable Unpacking. This also has the advantage of working on any iterable, not just sequences.

It's also really readable.

As described in the PEP, if you want to do the equivalent under 2.x (without potentially making a temporary list), you have to do this:

it = iter(iterable)
head = it.next()
tail = list(it)

Naturally, if you are working on a list, the easiest way without the 3.x syntax is:

head, tail = seq[0], seq[1:]