c.had1990 c.had1990 - 1 year ago 65
Python Question

What exactly are Python's iterator, iterable, and iteration protocols?

What are the most basic definitions of "iterable", "iterator" and "iteration" in Python?

I've read multiple definitions but their exact meaning still won't sink in.

Can someone please help me with the basic idea?

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Answer Source

Iteration is a general term for taking each item of something, one after another. Any time you use a loop, explicit or implicit, to go over a group of items, that is iteration.

In Python, iterable and iterator have specific meanings.

An iterable is an object that has an __iter__ method which returns an iterator, or which defines a __getitem__ method that can take sequential indexes starting from zero (and raises an IndexError when the indexes are no longer valid). So an iterable is an object that you can get an iterator from.

An iterator is an object with a next (Python 2) or __next__ (Python 3) method.

Whenever you use a for loop, or map, or a list comprehension, etc. in Python, the next method is called automatically to get each item from the iterator, thus going through the process of iteration.

A good place to start learning would be the iterators section of the tutorial and the iterator types section of the standard types page. After you understand the basics, try the iterators section of the Functional Programming HOWTO.