Adventures in Machine Learning

Discover the Best Ways to Print Variable Names in Python

Printing a Variable’s Name in Python

Python is a powerful programming language that enables developers to create complex applications with ease. However, sometimes, it becomes necessary to print the name of a variable in Python.

There are several different ways that you can print a variable’s name in Python, each with its unique benefits.

Using a Formatted String Literal

One of the easiest and most straightforward ways to print a variable’s name in Python is by using a formatted string literal. A formatted string literal, or f-string for short, allows you to embed expressions inside string literals, using curly braces {}.

Here’s an example:

“`

age = 25

print(f”My age is {age}”)

“`

Output: `My age is 25`

To print the name of the variable `age` instead of its value, you need to modify the string slightly:

“`

age = 25

print(f”The variable name is ‘age’ and the value is {age}”)

“`

Output: `The variable name is ‘age’ and the value is 25`

This is a simple and effective way to print a variable’s name in Python.

Using globals()

Another way to print a variable’s name in Python is by using the `globals()` function. The `globals()` function returns a dictionary representing the current global symbol table.

Here’s an example:

“`

age = 25

for var in globals():

if id(globals()[var]) == id(age):

print(f”The variable name is ‘{var}’ and the value is {age}”)

break

“`

Output: `The variable name is ‘age’ and the value is 25`

This approach involves iterating over the dictionary returned by `globals()` and checking if the object ID of each variable matches the object ID of the variable whose name you’re trying to print. Once you find a match, you can print the variable’s name.

Using locals()

Another way to print a variable’s name in Python is by using the `locals()` function. The `locals()` function returns a dictionary representing the current local symbol table.

Here’s an example:

“`

def

say_hello():

name = “Alice”

for var in locals():

if id(locals()[var]) == id(name):

print(f”The variable name is ‘{var}’ and the value is {name}”)

break

say_hello()

“`

Output: `The variable name is ‘name’ and the value is Alice`

This approach is similar to the previous one, but instead of using the `globals()` function, we’re using the `locals()` function. In this case, we’re iterating over the dictionary returned by `locals()`, looking for a match, and printing the variable’s name.

Storing in a Dictionary

Yet another way to print a variable’s name in Python is to store all the variables and their names in a dictionary. Here’s an example:

“`

person = {

“name”: “Alice”,

“age”: 25,

“country”: “Canada”

}

def print_var_name(val):

for k, v in person.items():

if v == val:

print(f”The variable name is ‘{k}’ and the value is {v}”)

break

print_var_name(person[‘age’])

“`

Output: `The variable name is ‘age’ and the value is 25`

In this example, we’re storing all the variables and their names in a dictionary called `person`.

We then define a function called `print_var_name`, which takes a value as a parameter, iterates over the key-value pairs in the `person` dictionary, and prints the variable name once it matches the value.

Conclusion

Printing a variable’s name in Python is a useful trick that can save you time and help you debug your code. There are several different ways to do it, including using a formatted string literal, the `globals()` function, the `locals()` function, and storing all the variables and their names in a dictionary.

Each method has its unique benefits, and the one you choose will depend on your particular use case.

Using globals()

Python’s `globals()` function returns a dictionary containing the current module’s namespace, which can be used to retrieve the name of a variable. Here’s how you can use it to retrieve the name of a variable:

“`

my_var = 42

for name in globals():

if globals()[name] == my_var:

print(name)

“`

The above code will output `my_var`, which is the name of the variable that contains the value of `42`.

The `globals()` function returns a dictionary where the keys are the names of the variables defined in the current module, and the values are the corresponding Python objects. To retrieve the name of a variable, you can iterate over the dictionary returned by `globals()` and check each value until you find the value you’re looking for.

Once you find the value, you can retrieve its key, which is the name of the variable. Iterating Over Dictionary to Get Matching Variable’s Name

When you use `globals()` to retrieve the module’s namespace, the dictionary returned by `globals()` contains all the variables defined in the current module.

This means that if you have multiple variables with the same value, you may get multiple variable names as output. One way to handle this issue is to iterate over the dictionary returned by `globals()` and return a list of variable names that match the value you’re looking for:

“`

my_var = 42

variable_names = [name for name in globals() if globals()[name] == my_var]

print(variable_names)

“`

The above code will output `[‘my_var’]` if only one variable with that value is defined in the current module, or a list of variable names if multiple variables with that same value are defined.

Handling Multiple Variables with the Same Value

If you have multiple variables with the same value, the previous approach of using a list comprehension to retrieve the variable names will return a list of all the variables that match the value. If you want to handle this situation more efficiently, you could consider using a dictionary of lists to store each variable name as a value corresponding to its value.

Here’s what this would look like:

“`

my_var = 42

variable_dict = {}

for name in globals():

if globals()[name] == my_var:

if my_var not in variable_dict:

variable_dict[my_var] = [name]

else:

variable_dict[my_var].append(name)

print(variable_dict)

“`

The above code will output `{42: [‘my_var’, ‘another_var’]}` if two variables with the value `42` are defined in the current module. This approach creates an empty dictionary and then iterates over the dictionary returned by `globals()`.

If the value of the current variable matches the value you’re looking for, the variable’s name is added to the dictionary as a value corresponding to the value of the variable as a key.

Using Locals()

If you’re working within a function, you might want to use `locals()` instead of `globals()` to access the variables within the current scope. Like `globals()`, `locals()` returns a dictionary where the keys are the variable names and the values are the corresponding Python objects.

Here’s how you can use `locals()` to retrieve the name of a variable with a specific value:

“`

def

my_function():

my_var = 42

variable_name = [name for name in locals() if locals()[name] == my_var][0]

print(variable_name)

my_function()

“`

The above code will output `my_var`, which is the name of the variable that contains the value of `42`. Since the `locals()` function returns a dictionary containing the current scope’s local variables, you can use the same approach as with `globals()` to retrieve the variable name with a specific value.

Using List Comprehension to Print Variable with Specific Value

If you want to print all variables within the current scope that match a specific value, you could use a list comprehension to generate a list of variable names that match the value:

“`

def

my_function():

my_var = 42

variable_names = [name for name in locals() if locals()[name] == my_var]

for name in variable_names:

print(name)

my_function()

“`

The above code will output `my_var` if that variable is defined in the current scope and contains the value `42`.

Conclusion

Python offers several ways to retrieve the name of a variable given its value. You can use `globals()` to retrieve all the variables defined in the current module or `locals()` to retrieve variables within the current scope.

Once you have the dictionary containing the variable names and their corresponding Python objects, you can iterate through it to find the variable that matches the value or use comprehension to generate a list of variable names that match the value.

Comparing globals() Dictionary and locals() Dictionary

The main difference between `globals()` and `locals()` is the scope of the variables they return. `globals()` returns a dictionary that contains all the variables defined in the current module’s global scope, while `locals()` returns a dictionary containing all the variables defined within the current local scope.

The global scope of a module includes all the variables that are defined in that module and can be accessed from within any function or method in the module. The local scope of a function or method includes all the variables defined within that function or method and can be accessed only from within that function or method.

`globals()` and `locals()` can also differ in performance and reliability. The `globals()` function can be relatively slow and should be used with caution since it can return variables defined in other modules that you import into your code.

On the other hand, `locals()` will only return variables defined within the current scope that you explicitly define. Storing Variable’s Name in Dictionary

One powerful way to store and access variable names by their values is by creating a dictionary that maps the values to their corresponding variable names.

The typical use case for this would be when you have a large number of variables, and you need to access and manipulate them by value, rather than by name. Here’s an example:

“`

variable_names = {

1: “my_var”,

2: “another_var”,

3: “third_var”

}

value = 1

name = variable_names[value]

“`

In the above example, we have created a dictionary called `variable_names` that maps the values of our variables to their corresponding names.

Once we have this dictionary, we can access variable names by their values, as shown in the last two lines of code.

Swapping Keys and Values

If you have already defined your variables and you need to create a dictionary that maps their values to their corresponding variable names, you can do so by swapping the keys and values of the original dictionary. Here’s an example:

“`

my_var = 42

another_var = 24

third_var = 42

value_to_variable = {v: k for k, v in locals().items() if not k.startswith(“__”)}

print(value_to_variable[42])

“`

In the above example, we have defined several variables and stored them in a dictionary called `value_to_variable`.

The keys of the dictionary are the values of the variables, and the values of the dictionary are the names of the variables themselves. To create this dictionary, we used a dictionary comprehension to iterate over the `locals()` dictionary and create a new dictionary.

We used the `if not k.startswith(“__”)` clause to filter out any variables in the dictionary that begin with two underscores, indicating that they are private variables and should not be included in the `value_to_variable` dictionary. We then printed the name of the variable containing the value of `42`, which is `my_var`.

Conclusion

Working with variable names in Python can be challenging, especially when dealing with a large number of variables or variables with the same value. Understanding how to use functions like `globals()` and `locals()` can help you to access variable names by their values.

Additionally, creating a dictionary that maps values to variable names can be a powerful tool to simplify your code and increase its readability. By leveraging these techniques, you can make your code more efficient and accessible.

In summary, printing or retrieving variable names in Python can be challenging, especially when dealing with a large number of variables. However, there are several ways to do it using functions like `globals()` and `locals()`, or by storing variable names in a dictionary that maps their values.

It’s essential to understand the difference between `globals()` and `locals()` and when to use each. Besides, creating dictionaries that store variable names and values can simplify code and make it more accessible.

By mastering these techniques, developers can efficiently manage variables, debug code faster and improve the readability of their code.