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python: how to identify if a variable is an array or a scalar

Posted by: admin November 1, 2017 Leave a comment

Questions:

I have a function that takes the argument NBins. I want to make a call to this function with a scalar 50 or an array [0, 10, 20, 30]. How can I identify within the function, what the length of NBins is? or said differently, if it is a scalar or a vector?

I tried this:

>>> N=[2,3,5]
>>> P = 5
>>> len(N)
3
>>> len(P)
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
TypeError: object of type 'int' has no len()
>>> 

As you see, I can’t apply len to P, since it’s not an array…. Is there something like isarray or isscalar in python?

thanks

Answers:
>>> isinstance([0, 10, 20, 30], list)
True
>>> isinstance(50, list)
False

To support any type of sequence, check collections.Sequence instead of list.

note: isinstance also supports a tuple of classes, check type(x) in (..., ...) should be avoided and is unnecessary.

You may also wanna check not isinstance(x, (str, unicode))

Questions:
Answers:

Previous answers assume that the array is a python standard list. As someone who uses numpy often, I’d recommend a very pythonic test of:

if hasattr(N, "__len__")

Questions:
Answers:

Combining @jamylak and @jpaddison3’s answers together, if you need to be robust against numpy arrays as the input and handle them in the same way as lists, you should use

import numpy as np
isinstance(P, (list, tuple, np.ndarray))

This is robust against subclasses of list, tuple and numpy arrays.

And if you want to be robust against all other subclasses of sequence as well (not just list and tuple), use

import collections
import numpy as np
isinstance(P, (collections.Sequence, np.ndarray))

Why should you do things this way with isinstance and not compare type(P) with a target value? Here is an example, where we make and study the behaviour of NewList, a trivial subclass of list.

>>> class NewList(list):
...     isThisAList = '???'
... 
>>> x = NewList([0,1])
>>> y = list([0,1])
>>> print x
[0, 1]
>>> print y
[0, 1]
>>> x==y
True
>>> type(x)
<class '__main__.NewList'>
>>> type(x) is list
False
>>> type(y) is list
True
>>> type(x).__name__
'NewList'
>>> isinstance(x, list)
True

Despite x and y comparing as equal, handling them by type would result in different behaviour. However, since x is an instance of a subclass of list, using isinstance(x,list) gives the desired behaviour and treats x and y in the same manner.

Questions:
Answers:

Is there an equivalent to isscalar() in numpy? Yes.

>>> np.isscalar(3.1)
True
>>> np.isscalar([3.1])
False
>>> np.isscalar(False)
True

Questions:
Answers:

While, @jamylak’s approach is the better one, here is an alternative approach

>>> N=[2,3,5]
>>> P = 5
>>> type(P) in (tuple, list)
False
>>> type(N) in (tuple, list)
True

Questions:
Answers:

Another alternative approach (use of class name property):

N = [2,3,5]
P = 5

type(N).__name__ == 'list'
True

type(P).__name__ == 'int'
True

type(N).__name__ in ('list', 'tuple')
True

No need to import anything.

Questions:
Answers:

You can check data type of variable.

N = [2,3,5]
P = 5
type(P)

It will give you out put as data type of P.

<type 'int'>

So that you can differentiate that it is an integer or an array.

Questions:
Answers:
>>> N=[2,3,5]
>>> P = 5
>>> type(P)==type(0)
True
>>> type([1,2])==type(N)
True
>>> type(P)==type([1,2])
False

Questions:
Answers:

I am surprised that such a basic question doesn’t seem to have an immediate answer in python.
It seems to me that nearly all proposed answers use some kind of type
checking, that is usually not advised in python and they seem restricted to a specific case (they fail with different numerical types or generic iteratable objects that are not tuples or lists).

For me, what works better is importing numpy and using array.size, for example:

>>> a=1
>>> np.array(a)
Out[1]: array(1)

>>> np.array(a).size
Out[2]: 1

>>> np.array([1,2]).size
Out[3]: 2

>>> np.array('125')
Out[4]: 1

Note also:

>>> len(np.array([1,2]))

Out[5]: 2

but:

>>> len(np.array(a))
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
TypeError                                 Traceback (most recent call last)
<ipython-input-40-f5055b93f729> in <module>()
----> 1 len(np.array(a))

TypeError: len() of unsized object

Questions:
Answers:

Simply use size instead of len!

>>> from numpy import size
>>> N = [2, 3, 5]
>>> size(N)
3
>>> N = array([2, 3, 5])
>>> size(N)
3
>>> P = 5
>>> size(P)
1