23.1. Introduction: Map, Filter, List Comprehensions, and Zip¶
Let’s revisit the accumulator pattern. We have frequently taken a list and produced another list from it that contains either a subset of the items or a transformed version of each item. When each item is transformed we say that the operation is a mapping, or just a map of the original list. When some items are omitted, we call it a filter.
Python provides built-in functions
filter. Python also provides a new syntax, called
list comprehensions, that lets you express a mapping and/or filtering operation. Just as with named functions and
lambda expressions, some students seem to find it easier to think in terms of the map and filter functions, while other
students find it easier to read and write list comprehensions. You’ll learn both ways; one may even help you understand
the other. Most python programmers use list comprehensions, so make sure you learn to read those. In this course, you can
choose to learn to write list comprehensions or to use map and filter, whichever you prefer. You should learn to read both
list comprehensions and map/filter.
Other common accumulator patterns on lists aggregate all the values into a single value.
Map, and filter are commands that you would use in high-performance computing on big datasets. See MapReduce on Wikipedia.