What is the purpose of the single underscore _ variable in Python?

What is the purpose of the single underscore _ variable in Python?

_ has 3 main conventional uses in Python:

  1. To hold the result of the last executed expression in an interactive
    interpreter session (see docs). This precedent was set by the standard CPython
    interpreter, and other interpreters have followed suit

  2. For translation lookup in i18n (see the
    gettext
    documentation for example), as in code like

    raise forms.ValidationError(_(Please enter a correct username))
    
  3. As a general purpose throwaway variable name:

    1. To indicate that part
      of a function result is being deliberately ignored (Conceptually, it is being discarded.), as in code like:

      label, has_label, _ = text.partition(:)
      
    2. As part of a function definition (using either def or lambda), where
      the signature is fixed (e.g. by a callback or parent class API), but
      this particular function implementation doesnt need all of the
      parameters, as in code like:

      def callback(_):
          return True
      

      [For a long time this answer didnt list this use case, but it came up often enough, as noted here, to be worth listing explicitly.]

    This use case can conflict with the translation lookup use case, so it is necessary to avoid using _ as a throwaway variable in any code block that also uses it for i18n translation (many folks prefer a double-underscore, __, as their throwaway variable for exactly this reason).

    Linters often recognize this use case. For example year, month, day = date() will raise a lint warning if day is not used later in the code. The fix, if day is truly not needed, is to write year, month, _ = date(). Same with lambda functions, lambda arg: 1.0 creates a function requiring one argument but not using it, which will be caught by lint. The fix is to write lambda _: 1.0. An unused variable is often hiding a bug/typo (e.g. set day but use dya in the next line).

    The pattern matching feature added in Python 3.10 elevated this usage from convention to language syntax where match statements are concerned: in match cases, _ is a wildcard pattern, and the runtime doesnt even bind a value to the symbol in that case.

    For other use cases, remember that _ is still a valid variable name, and hence will still keep objects alive. In cases where this is undesirable (e.g. to release memory or external resources) an explicit del name call will both satisfy linters that the name is being used, and promptly clear the reference to the object.

Its just a variable name, and its conventional in python to use _ for throwaway variables. It just indicates that the loop variable isnt actually used.

What is the purpose of the single underscore _ variable in Python?

Underscore _ is considered as I dont Care or Throwaway variable in Python

  • The python interpreter stores the last expression value to the special variable called _.

    >>> 10 
    10
    
    >>> _ 
    10
    
    >>> _ * 3 
    30
    
  • The underscore _ is also used for ignoring the specific values. If you don’t need the specific values or the values are not used, just assign the values to underscore.

    Ignore a value when unpacking

    x, _, y = (1, 2, 3)
    
    >>> x
    1
    
    >>> y 
    3
    

    Ignore the index

    for _ in range(10):     
        do_something()
    

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.