Loops

A Python script is a file that contains instructions to the python interpreter, with one instruction per line, that are read one at a time from the top of the script to the bottom. You can, however, divert this flow using a loop. Open a new Python script loop.py and write this;

for i in range(1, 11):
    five_times_i = 5 * i
    print("5 times %d equals %d" % ( i, five_times_i ))

What do you think will be printed to the screen? Run the script using python loop.py. Did you see what you expected?

This script has introduced a for loop. The loop has two parts;

Loops are very powerful. For example;

for i in range(0, 201, 2):
    print("%d" % i)

prints all of the even numbers from 0 to 200.

for i in range(10, 0, -1):
    print("%d..." % i)

print ("We have lift off!")

prints out a count down.

from __future__ import print_function

for i in range(1, 4):
    for j in range(1,4):
        i_times_j = i * j

        print("%d" % i_times_j, end="")

    print("\n", end="")

prints out a 3*3 matrix where the element at (i,j) equals i times j.

Note in this last example that adding end="" at the end of the print line print("%d" % i_times_j, end="") stops a return (newline) from being printed at the end of the line, and that you can explicitly print a newline by printing “\n” (e.g. print("\n", end="")).

Note also that we have had to added the line from __future__ import print_function. This is because the end="" code was added to Python 3, and was not originally available in Python 2. New language features added to Python 3 have been added back to Python 2, and are activated using the code from __future__ import something, where something is the Python 3 feature to be added. You can see the full list of Python 3 features that were added to Python 2 here. Note that you don’t need to include this line if you are writing scripts that will only be run using Python 3.

Note as well in the last example that you can nest loops (one loop can be inside another), but you must be careful within indentation to ensure that a line of code is in the loop you want. Try writing this;

from __future__ import print_function

for i in range(1, 4):
    for j in range(1,4):
        i_times_j = i * j

    print("%d" % i_times_j, end="")

    print("\n", end="")

This above code won’t work as the print("%d" % i_times_j, end="") is indented only into the first loop for i in range(1,4):, and is not part of the second loop for j in range(1,4): as is required for this example.

As you can see, indentation in Python is really important. Getting it wrong can dramatically change your script, and bugs caused by incorrect indentation can be very hard to find. While this is a weakness of Python, it is also a strength, as enforcing correct indentation helps make Python scripts easier to read and easier to maintain over long periods of time.


Compare with Perl


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