· python til

Python 3.10: Pattern matching with match/case

I’ve been reading Fluent Python and learnt about pattern matching with the match/case statement, introduced in Python 3.10. You can use it instead of places where you’d otherwise use if, elif, else statements.

I created a small example to understand how it works. The following function takes in a list where the first argument should be foo, followed by a variable number of arguments, which we print to the console:

def parse_if(x):
    if x[0] == "foo":
        if len(x[1:]) > 1:
            print(f"Multiple values: {'_'.join([str(n) for n in x[1:]])}")
        elif len(x[1:]) == 1:
            if x[1] == 5:
                print(f"Only one value and it's the magical 5")
                print(f"Only one value: {x[1]}")
            print("No values")
        raise SyntaxError(f"Invalid expression: {x}")

Let’s run that function with some different arguments:

parse_if(["foo", *(range(0,10))])
parse_if(["foo", 1])
parse_if(["foo", 5dada])
Multiple values: 0_1_2_3_4_5_6_7_8_9
Only one value: 1
Only one value and it's the magical 5
No values
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/Users/markhneedham/projects/fluent_python/destruct.py", line 40, in <module>
  File "/Users/markhneedham/projects/fluent_python/destruct.py", line 14, in parse_if
    raise SyntaxError(f"Invalid expression: {x}")
SyntaxError: Invalid expression: ['bar']

A version of that function rewritten to use pattern matching would look like this:

def parse_match(x):
    match x: (1)
        case ['foo']:
            print("No values")
        case ['foo', 5]: (2)
            print(f"Only one value and it's the magical 5")
        case ['foo', other]: (3)
            print(f"Only one value: {other}")
        case ['foo', *other]: (4)
            print(f"Multiple values: {'_'.join([str(n) for n in other])}")
        case _: (5)
            raise SyntaxError(f"Invalid expression: {x}")
1 x is our pattern matching subject
2 We can match literal values inside a case statement
3 Or we can assign to a variable instead.
4 The * operator matches multiple values
5 _ is a wildcard character that matches everything else

I think this second example is a little bit easier to read than the first and I can see this syntax being super useful for more gnarly combinations of predicates.

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