Python Language Reference Manual by Guido van Rossum and Fred L. Drake, Jr. Paperback (6"x9"), 120 pages ISBN 0954161785 RRP £12.95 ($19.95) Sales of this book support the Python Software Foundation! Get a printed copy>>> 
5.9 Comparisons
Unlike C, all comparison operations in Python have the same priority,
which is lower than that of any arithmetic, shifting or bitwise
operation. Also unlike C, expressions like a < b < c
have the
interpretation that is conventional in mathematics:
comparison
or_expr
(comp_operator
or_expr
)*comp_operator "<"  ">"
  "=="  ">="  "<="  "<>"  "!="  "is" [ "not" ]  [ "not" ] "in"
Comparisons yield boolean values: True
or False
.
Comparisons can be chained arbitrarily, e.g., x < y <= z
is
equivalent to x < y and y <= z
, except that y
is
evaluated only once (but in both cases z
is not evaluated at all
when x < y
is found to be false).
Formally, if a, b, c, ..., y, z are
expressions and opa, opb, ..., opy are comparison
operators, then a opa b opb c ...y opy z is equivalent
to a opa b and
b opb c and
...
y opy z, except that each expression is evaluated at most once.
Note that a opa b opb c doesn't imply any kind of comparison
between a and c, so that, e.g., x < y > z
is
perfectly legal (though perhaps not pretty).
The forms <>
and !=
are equivalent; for consistency with
C, !=
is preferred; where !=
is mentioned below
<>
is also accepted. The <>
spelling is considered
obsolescent.
The operators <
, >
, ==
, >=
, <=
, and
!=
compare
the values of two objects. The objects need not have the same type.
If both are numbers, they are converted to a common type. Otherwise,
objects of different types always compare unequal, and are
ordered consistently but arbitrarily. You can control comparison
behavior of objects of nonbuiltin types by defining a __cmp__
method or rich comparison methods like __gt__
, described in
section 3.4.
(This unusual definition of comparison was used to simplify the
definition of operations like sorting and the in
and
not in
operators. In the future, the comparison rules for
objects of different types are likely to change.)
Comparison of objects of the same type depends on the type:
 Numbers are compared arithmetically.

Strings are compared lexicographically using the numeric equivalents
(the result of the builtin function
ord()
) of their characters. Unicode and 8bit strings are fully interoperable in this behavior. 
Tuples and lists are compared lexicographically using comparison of
corresponding elements. This means that to compare equal, each
element must compare equal and the two sequences must be of the same
type and have the same length.
If not equal, the sequences are ordered the same as their first
differing elements. For example,
cmp([1,2,x], [1,2,y])
returns the same ascmp(x,y)
. If the corresponding element does not exist, the shorter sequence is ordered first (for example,[1,2] < [1,2,3]
).  Mappings (dictionaries) compare equal if and only if their sorted (key, value) lists compare equal.^{(13)} Outcomes other than equality are resolved consistently, but are not otherwise defined.^{(14)}
 Most other objects of builtin types compare unequal unless they are the same object; the choice whether one object is considered smaller or larger than another one is made arbitrarily but consistently within one execution of a program.
The operators in
and not in
test for set
membership. x in s
evaluates to true if x
is a member of the set s, and false otherwise. x not in s
returns the negation of x in s
.
The set membership test has traditionally been bound to sequences; an
object is a member of a set if the set is a sequence and contains an
element equal to that object. However, it is possible for an object
to support membership tests without being a sequence. In particular,
dictionaries support membership testing as a nicer way of spelling
key in dict
; other mapping types may follow suit.
For the list and tuple types, x in y
is true if and
only if there exists an index i such that
x == y[i]
is true.
For the Unicode and string types, x in y
is true if
and only if x is a substring of y. An equivalent test is
y.find(x) != 1
. Note, x and y need not be the
same type; consequently, u'ab' in 'abc'
will return True
.
Empty strings are always considered to be a substring of any other string,
so "" in "abc"
will return True
. (Changed in Python version 2.3)
For userdefined classes which define the __contains__()
method,
x in y
is true if and only if
y.__contains__(x)
is true.
For userdefined classes which do not define __contains__()
and
do define __getitem__()
, x in y
is true if
and only if there is a nonnegative integer index i such that
x == y[i]
, and all lower integer indices
do not raise IndexError
exception. (If any other exception
is raised, it is as if in
raised that exception).
The operator not in
is defined to have the inverse true value
of in
.
The operators is
and is not
test for object identity:
x is y
is true if and only if x and y
are the same object. x is not y
yields the inverse
truth value.
ISBN 0954161785  Python Language Reference Manual  See the print edition 