# Transforming iterables

Categories: functional programming

Higher order functions are functions that act on other functions.

Two important built-in Python higher order functions - `map`

and `filter`

.

## map

`map`

applies a function to each element in an iterable, and returns the results as a new iterable.

Here is an example:

import math k = [1, 25, 81] e = map(math.sqrt, k) print(list(e)) #[1.0, 5.0, 9.0]

In this case the `map`

function applies the `sqrt`

function to each of the elements in the list `[1, 25, 81]`

. The result is a sequence containing the values 1.0, 5.0 and 9.0 (the square roots of the numbers in the original list). Note that `map`

creates an iterator - we must convert it to a list before we can print it.

The code above is roughly equivalent to this loop:

import math k = [1, 25, 81] e = [] for x in k: e.append(math.sqrt(x)) print(e) #[1.0, 5.0, 9.0]

The main benefit of using `map`

is that it makes the intent clear. Although the loop in the second example is very simple, you still need to read it to understand what it is doing, because a loop could be doing various different things.

It also makes the code shorter and simpler, so it is less likely to contain bugs.

Finally, `map`

uses lazy evaluation, so that it never needs to store all the elements of the output in memory. If `k`

was a very long list, it could be useful to be able to process it one item at a time so save memory.

## filter

`filter`

accepts a *predicate* and an iterable. A predicate is any function that accepts a single parameter and return a boolean result.

`filter`

applies the predicate to each item in the input iterable, and returns a new iterable that contains only those items for which the predicate returns True.

For example:

def gt_0(x): return x > 0 k = [1, -2, 3, 2, 0, -1] f = filter(gt_0, k)

Here our predicate accepts only value that are greater than 0, so `f`

contains the sequence:

1, 3, 2

For more examples see Looping over selected items.

## Using lambdas

In the `filter`

example above, we declared a function `gt_0`

that only gets used is the filter call. We could avoid creating a function by using a lambda function. This allows a simple function to be defined where it is used, without needing to name it (it is an anonymous function). We can define a lambda version of `gt_0`

like this:

lambda x : x > 0

Or code would now look like:

k = [1, -2, 3, 2, 0, -1] f = filter(lambda x : x > 0, k)

## See also

- Introduction to Functional Programming
- Functions
- Pure functions
- Lambda functions
- Iterators
- Iterators vs iterables
- Built-in functions on iterables
- Map/reduce example
- Generators
- Functional design patterns
- Recursion and the lru_cache in Python
- Partial application
- Closures
- Monads
- Failure monad
- List monad
- Maybe monad

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