If Python does not have a ternary conditional operator, is it possible to simulate one using other language constructs?

In the Python 3.0 official documentation referenced in a comment above, this is referred to as "conditional_expressions" and is very cryptically defined. That documentation doesn't even include the term "ternary", so you would be hard-pressed to find it via Google unless you knew exactly what to look for. The version 2 documentation is somewhat more helpful and includes a link to "PEP 308", which includes a lot of interesting historical context related to this question.

"ternary" (having three inputs) is a consequential property of this impelmentation, not a defining property of the concept. eg: SQL has case [...] { when ... then ...} [ else ... ] end for a similar effect but not at all ternary.

also ISO/IEC 9899 (the C programming language standard) section 6.5.15 calls it the "the condtitional operator"

Wikipedia covers this thoroughly in the article "?:".

In the years since nobar's comment the conditional expression documentation has been updated to say Conditional expressions (sometimes called a “ternary operator”)...

The order may seems strange for coders however f(x) = |x| = x if x > 0 else -x sounds very natural to mathematicians. You may also understand it as do A in most case, except when C then you should do B instead...

Be careful with order of operations when using this. For example, the line z = 3 + x if x < y else y. If x=2 and y=1, you might expect that to yield 4, but it would actually yield 1. z = 3 + (x if x > y else y) is the correct usage.

The point was if you want to perform additional evaluations after the conditional is evaluated, like adding a value to the result, you'll either need to add the additional expression to both sides (z = 3 + x if x < y else 3 + y), or group the conditional (z = 3 + (x if x < y else y) or z = (x if x < y else y) + 3)

MrGeek, I see what you mean, so you would basically be nesting the operations: ` "foo" if Bool else ("bar" if Bool else "foobar") `

Programmers need precise correct formulation even more than mathematician, because in mathematics there is always a resort to underlying concepts. A convincing argument is the % operator, mimicking the way "mod" is used in math would have been a disaster. So no, I don't accept your argument. It is like adhering to imperial units. Groetjes Albert

Note that this one always evaluates everything, whereas the if/else construct only evaluates the winning expression.

(lambda: print("a"), lambda: print("b"))[test==true]()

It should be noted that what's within the []s can be an arbitrary expression. Also, for safety you can explicitly test for truthiness by writing [bool(<expression>)]. The bool() function has been around since v2.2.1.

I've done a similar trick -- only once or twice, but done it -- by indexing into a dictionary with True and False as the keys: {True:trueValue, False:falseValue}[test] I don't know whether this is any less efficient, but it does at least avoid the whole "elegant" vs. "ugly" debate. There's no ambiguity that you're dealing with a boolean rather than an int.

comparisons to singletons should always use is/is not instead of ==

The remedy is to use (test and [true_value] or [false_value])[0], which avoids this trap.

Ternary operator usually executes faster(sometimes by 10-25%).

volcano Do you have source for me?

OrangeTux Here's the disassembled code. Using the method ThomasH suggested would be even slower.

This one emphasizes the primary intent of the ternary operator: value selection. It also shows that more than one ternary can be chained together into a single expression.

Craig , I agree, but it's also helpful to know what will happen when there are no parentheses. In real code, I too would tend to insert explicit parens.

result = {1: x, 0: y}[a > b] is another possible variant (True and False are actually integers with values 1 and 0)

While the tuple of lambdas trick works, it takes roughly 3x as long as the ternary operator. It's only likely to be a reasonable idea if it can replace a long chain of if else if.

This blogger found python's ternary operator to be unnecessarily different than most other languages.

It may sound opinionated; but what it essentially says is that it the Python syntax is likely to be understood by a person who never saw a ternary operator, while very few people will understand the more usual syntax unless they have been told first what it means.

Algol68: a=.if. .true. .then. 1 .else. 0 .fi. This may be expressed also a=(.true.|1|0) As usual Algol68 is an improvement over its successors.

The behaviour is not identical - q("blob", on_true, on_false) returns on_false, whereas on_true if cond else on_false returns on_true. A workaround is to replace cond with cond is not None in these cases, although that is not a perfect solution.

Why not bool(cond) instead of cond is True? The former checks the truthiness of cond, the latter checks for pointer-equality with the True object. As highlighted by AndrewCecil, "blob" is truthy but it is not True.

Wow, that looks really hacky! :) Technically, you can even write [on_false, on_True][cond is True] so the expression becomes shorter.

There is no short circuit in this answer. If on_true and on_false are expensive to call this is a bad answer.

expression1 or expression2 being similar and with the same drawbacks/positives as expression1 || expression2 in javascript

Thanks, selurvedu - it can be confusing until you get it straight. I learned the hard way, so your way might not be as hard. ;) Using if without the else, at the end of a generator expression or list comprehension will filter the iterable. In the front, it's a ternary conditional operation, and requires the else. Cheers!!

AaronHall Although your use of metasyntactic expressionN for all instances is consistent, it might be easier to understand with naming that distinguished the conditional test expression from the two result expressions; eg, result1 if condition else result2. This is especially evident when nesting (aka chaining): result1 if condition1 else result2 if condition2 else result3. See how much better that reads this way?

tchrist thanks for the review - if you look at the revision history, this post currently has two revisions. Most of my other answers, especially the top ones, have been revisited again and again. This answer never gets my attention because the community wiki status gives me no credit for the content, and so I never see any votes on it. As I don't really have time for an edit on this right now, frog knows when it will come to my attention again in the future. I can see you've edited the top answer, so feel free to borrow/quote my material from this post in that one (and cite me if apropos!)

Why not simply result = (y, x)[a < b] Why do you uses lambda function ?

GrijeshChauhan Because on "compliated" expressions, e. g. involving a function call etc., this would be executed in both cases. This might not be wanted.

If you want to use that in the context of x = [condition] and ([expression_1] or 1) or [expression_2] and expression_1 evaluates to false, x will be 1, not expression_1. Use the accepted answer.

Note that the ternary operator is smaller (in memory) and faster than the nested if. Also, your nested if-else isn't actually a rewrite of the ternary operator, and will produce different output for select values of a and b (specifically if one is a type which implements a weird __ne__ method).

I prefer print( 'yes' if conditionX else 'nah' ) over your answer. :-)

That is if you want to print() in both cases - and it looks a bit more pythonic, I have to admit :) But what if the expressions/functions are not the same - like print('yes') if conditionX else True - to get the print() only in truthy conditionX

To add to Frederick99's remark, another reason to avoid print('yes') if conditionX else print('nah') is that it gives a SyntaxError in Python2.

The only reason it gives a syntax error is because in Python 2 print is a statement - print "yes", while in Python 3 it is a function - print("yes"). That can be resolved by either using it as a statement, or better - from future import print_function.

Upvote for that short-circuit evaluation.

I have added a one line statement example to check which number is big to elaborate it further

print is really not a good choice, as this will give a SyntaxError in Python2.

Thierry Lathuille here I used print() function not print statement, print function is for Python 3 while print statement is for Python 2

The question has already been asked on SO, just try it with Python 2 and you will see by yourself. 'print('hello') is a perfectly valid syntax in Python 2.7, but the way it is parsed makes your code above throw a SyntaxError.

While useful for similar problems, this is not a ternary conditional. It works to replace x if x else y, but not x if z else y.