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An Introduction to Python
by Guido van Rossum and Fred L. Drake, Jr.
Paperback (6"x9"), 124 pages
ISBN 0954161769
RRP £12.95 ($19.95)

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5.8 Comparing Sequences and Other Types

Sequence objects may be compared to other objects with the same sequence type. The comparison uses lexicographical ordering: first the first two items are compared, and if they differ this determines the outcome of the comparison; if they are equal, the next two items are compared, and so on, until either sequence is exhausted. If two items to be compared are themselves sequences of the same type, the lexicographical comparison is carried out recursively. If all items of two sequences compare equal, the sequences are considered equal. If one sequence is an initial sub-sequence of the other, the shorter sequence is the smaller (lesser) one. Lexicographical ordering for strings uses the ASCII ordering for individual characters. Some examples of comparisons between sequences of the same type:

    (1, 2, 3)              < (1, 2, 4)
    [1, 2, 3]              < [1, 2, 4]
    'ABC' < 'C' < 'Pascal' < 'Python'
    (1, 2, 3, 4)           < (1, 2, 4)
    (1, 2)                 < (1, 2, -1)
    (1, 2, 3)             == (1.0, 2.0, 3.0)
    (1, 2, ('aa', 'ab'))   < (1, 2, ('abc', 'a'), 4)

Note that comparing objects of different types is legal. The outcome is deterministic but arbitrary: the types are ordered by their name. Thus, a list is always smaller than a string, a string is always smaller than a tuple, etc.(2) Mixed numeric types are compared according to their numeric value, so 0 equals 0.0, etc.

ISBN 0954161769An Introduction to PythonSee the print edition