Python Partial Functions Tutorial – Complete Guide

Welcome to a comprehensive tutorial that opens your doors to the world of Python partial functions! This is a beginner-friendly yet in-depth guide that equips you with a robust understanding of partial functions, one of the powerful features of Python. It deepens your Python programming skills, making you a more versatile coder while opening up a whole new realm of coding possibilities.

What Are Python Partial Functions?

A Partial function in Python is a technique that allows you to fix a certain number of arguments of a function and generate a new function. This fascinating aspect of Python introduces a way of performing function parameterization, enhancing code reusability and making your codes neater and easier to read.

Why Learn Python Partial Functions?

Learning Python partial functions adds an essential tool to your Python programming toolkit. Understanding partial functions:

  • Enhances your ability to write cleaner, reusable and maintainable code
  • Bolsters your problem-solving skills
  • Paves way for complex programming techniques including Higher Order Functions & Function Factories

Ultimately, this knowledge enables you to write robust, scalable and elegant Python applications. Whether you are an aspiring game developer, a data scientist, or just a coding enthusiast, mastering partial functions helps you excel in your projects and career.

This tutorial will walk you through the crucial concepts of Python Partial Functions with engaging examples related to simple game mechanics and more. So, let’s dive in and start exploring the wonders of partial functions in Python!

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How to Create Python Partial Functions?

Let’s get started by creating a simple function. Take a look at the following code:

def greet(name, greeting):
    print(f'{greeting}, {name}!')

This is a simple function that takes two arguments (a greeting and a name) and uses them to produce a greeting message. But what if we want to predefine a certain greeting for a bunch of calls? This is where partial functions come in handy.

To create a partial function, we need to use the functools.partial method. Let’s create a partial function from greet:

from functools import partial

greet_hello = partial(greet, greeting='Hello')

# now we can call greet_hello with just the name
greet_hello('Alice')

Now, calling the greet_hello function with just the one argument (‘Alice’) will yield the output ‘Hello, Alice!’.

Key Point to Remember

Python applies the fixed parameters you passed to partial from left to right. Take a look at the following example:

from functools import partial

# a simple function that adds two numbers
def add(a, b):
    return a + b

add_five = partial(add, 5)

result = add_five(3)
print(result)  # this prints 8

In the above code, the partial function add_five uses the original function add with a pre-defined first parameter (5). When you later call add_five(3), Python treats this as calling add(5, 3), resulting in 8.

Using Partial with Functions That Have Multiple Arguments

We can also use partial functions to fix any number of function parameters, even if the function has many more parameters. Let’s see an example with a function that has four parameters:

from functools import partial

# a function that takes four parameters
def game_result(player1, score1, player2, score2):
    print(f'{player1} vs {player2} : {score1} - {score2}')

# let's fix the first two parameters
soccer_result = partial(game_result, 'Team A', 3)

# now we can call soccer_result with the remaining parameters
soccer_result('Team B', 2)  
# this prints: Team A vs Team B : 3 - 2

With partial functions, you can fix as many function parameters as you want and use any Python function as a base. This functionality makes partial functions an incredibly versatile and powerful tool in your Python programming arsenal.

Working with Optional Arguments

Partial functions also work wonderfully with optional keyword arguments. Let’s check the following code:

from functools import partial

# a simple function with one compulsory and two optional arguments
def greetings(name, upper=False, exclamation=False):
    message = 'Hello ' + name
    if upper:
        message = message.upper()
    if exclamation:
        message = message + '!'
    print(message)

# let's create a new partial function
loud_greetings = partial(greetings, upper=True, exclamation=True)

# now we can use our new function
loud_greetings('Alice')  # Outputs: 'HELLO ALICE!'

In this example, we introduced the optional keyword arguments upper and exclamation into our original greetings function.

Passing Arguments in Different Order

Partial function also allows you to specify function parameters by their names. This way, you add more flexibility in terms of which parameters you want to fix:

from functools import partial

# an add function that adds three numbers
def add(a, b, c):
    return a + b + c

# we can fix the 'c' parameter without fixing 'b' 
add_ten = partial(add, c=10)

result = add_ten(3, 7)
print(result)   # this prints 20

This piece of code created a new add_ten function that predefines the third parameter c without taking a default for the second parameter b.

Using Partial functions within classes

Partial functions can also be used within object-oriented scripting where the standard functions are part of a class.

from functools import partial

class Monster:
    def __init__(self, name, health, attack):
        self.name = name
        self.health = health
        self.attack = attack

# create a partial function for a Monster with a predefined name and health
orc = partial(Monster, name='Orc', health=100)

# create an instance of orc
orc_instance = orc(attack=20)

print(orc_instance.name)  # Outputs: 'Orc'
print(orc_instance.health)  # Outputs: '100'
print(orc_instance.attack)  # Outputs: '20'

This creates a partial function orc for creating instances of the ‘Monster’ class with predefined name and health, but with variable attack values.

Mastering partial functions can make your Python coding much more comfortable, flexible, and efficient. We at Zenva encourage you to explore this powerful tool and elevate your programming prowess with Python.

What’s Next?

Congratulations on equipping yourself with the knowledge of Python partial functions – a powerful tool to boost your Python programming prowess. But your journey has just begun!

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Conclusion

You’ve just unlocked a new Python superpower – partial functions! Such knowledge is invaluable, particularly when coding complex applications or striving for code that is clean and highly maintainable. But remember, the world of coding is vast, and every skill, every tool you master, is another step towards becoming an exceptional programmer.

Stay ahead in your coding journey with our curated, industry-aligned resources. We invite you to continue exploring Python and many other skills with Zenva’s online courses. Our project-based and hands-on approach to learning ensures you’re always applying what you’re learning, preparing you for real-world challenges. Keep coding, keep exploring, and keep leveling up!

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