Chapter 13. Case Study: Data Structure Selection

At this point you have learned about Python’s core data structures, and you have seen some of the algorithms that use them. If you would like to know more about algorithms, this might be a good time to read Chapter 21. But you don’t have to read it before you go on; you can read it whenever you are interested.

This chapter presents a case study with exercises that let you think about choosing data structures and practice using them.

Word Frequency Analysis

As usual, you should at least attempt the exercises before you read my solutions.

Exercise 13-1.

Write a program that reads a file, breaks each line into words, strips whitespace and punctuation from the words, and converts them to lowercase.

Hint: The string module provides a string named whitespace, which contains space, tab, newline, etc., and punctuation which contains the punctuation characters. Let’s see if we can make Python swear:

>>> import string
>>> string.punctuation

Also, you might consider using the string methods strip, replace and translate.

Exercise 13-2.

Go to Project Gutenberg ( and download your favorite out-of-copyright book in plain text format.

Modify your program from the previous exercise to read the book you downloaded, skip over the header information at the beginning of the file, and process the rest of the words as before.

Then modify the program to count the total number of words in the book, and ...

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