davelupt davelupt -4 years ago 142
Python Question

String Comparison Technique Used by Python

I'm wondering how Python does string comparison, more specifically how it determines the outcome when a less than (<) or greater than (>) sign is used.

For instance if I put print('abc' < 'bac') I get true. I understand that it compares corresponding characters in the string, however its unclear as to why there is more, for lack of a better term, "weight" placed on the fact that a is less than b (first position) in first string rather than the fact that a is less than b in the second string (second position).

Answer Source

From the docs:

The comparison uses lexicographical ordering: first the first two items are compared, and if they differ this determines the outcome of the comparison; if they are equal, the next two items are compared, and so on, until either sequence is exhausted.

Also:

Lexicographical ordering for strings uses the Unicode code point number to order individual characters.

or on Python 2:

Lexicographical ordering for strings uses the ASCII ordering for individual characters.

As an example:

>>> 'abc' > 'bac'
False
>>> ord('a'), ord('b')
(97, 98)

The result False is returned as soon as a is found to be less than b. The further items are not compared (as you can see for the second items: b > a is True).

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