Chapter 27. Common Tasks in Python

At this point in the book, you have been exposed to a fairly complete survey of the more formal aspects of the language (the syntax, the data types, etc.). In this chapter, we’ll “step out of the classroom” by looking at a set of basic computing tasks and examining how Python programmers typically solve them, hopefully helping you ground the theoretical knowledge with concrete results.

Python programmers don’t like to reinvent wheels when they already have access to nice, round wheels in their garage. Thus, the most important content in this chapter is the description of selected tools that make up the Python standard library—built-in functions, library modules, and their most useful functions and classes. While you most likely won’t use all of these in any one program, no useful program avoids all of these. Just as Python provides a list object type because sequence manipulations occur in all programming contexts, the library provides a set of modules that will come in handy over and over again. Before designing and writing any piece of generally useful code, check to see if a similar module already exists. If it’s part of the standard Python library, you can be assured that it’s been heavily tested; even better, others are committed to fixing any remaining bugs—for free.

The goal of this chapter is to expose you to a lot of different tools, so that you know that they exist, rather than to teach you everything you need to know in order to use them. ...

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