Python Syntax Soup: x in y

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Python has these operators to check if a key exist in hash table or element exist in list:

There are several issues:

x not in list is not necessary. It can simply be done with not (x in list). This way, you reduce special syntax and rely on function/expression composition.

• The not operator is part of not in operator. This means, the words has context dependent semantics.

not in is a operator. Using English words as operator is not so good. but now that operator is 2 words, separated by space! So, syntactically, it becomes not distinguishable from statements.

x in y is subform the loop form for x in y [see Python: for, while, Loops] , and also the list comprehension syntax [… for x in y] [see Python: List Comprehension] . This is a example of context dependent semantics.

[see Why List Comprehension is Bad]

k in d is itself is not necessary. Python has a has_key() method for dictionary, which is in sync with the 20 other methods on dict. Method syntax is systematic and also informative of its meaning because of the name. Though, strangely, python decided to deprecate it, and in python 3, it's gone.

[see Python: Dictionary]

This is the state of the affair of syntax soup. When you learn a language, there's little governing principle of what symbol can go where (as in formal language), instead, you learn by rote of what symbols or words can go where in what context means what.

Here's another example.

the python import statement syntax, is a prime example of context dependent semantics. witness:

in the above, the two import name have different meaning.

Context Dependent Syntax

  1. JavaScript Syntax Soup: p in o
  2. Python Syntax Soup: x in y
  3. Context Dependent Syntax, Python, Lisp setf

Python Syntax Suck

  1. Why Python Lambda is Broken and Can't be Fixed
  2. The Fate of Lambda in Python 3000 and Scheme v300
  3. Lambda in Python 3000
  4. Python, Lambda, Guido: is Language Design Just Solving Puzzles?
  5. Python Syntax Soup: x in y
  6. Python Syntax Problem: Comment and Backslash
  7. Syntax Design: Python's Indentation vs Nesting

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