Interview Kickstart has enabled over 3500 engineers to uplevel.
Python supports object-oriented programming and provides a concise, readable, easy-to-learn syntax. These qualities make Python one of the most popular programming languages. In this article, we learn about some of the most used functions in Python to get you started.
If you are preparing for a tech interview, check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation e-book to get interview-ready! Also, read Python String join() Method, Python Exit commands, and Type and Isinstance In Python for more content on Python coding interview preparation.
Having trained over 11,000 software engineers, we know what it takes to crack the toughest tech interviews. Our alums consistently land offers from FAANG+ companies. The highest ever offer received by an IK alum is a whopping $1.267 Million!
At IK, you get the unique opportunity to learn from expert instructors who are hiring managers and tech leads at Google, Facebook, Apple, and other top Silicon Valley tech companies.
Want to nail your next tech interview? Sign up for our FREE Webinar.
In this article, we’ll cover:
While there’s no dearth of useful built-in Python functions, this article focuses on 16 powerful Python functions you should definitely know. Let’s jump right in!
Python’s append() function takes a single item as an input parameter and adds it to the end of the given list. In Python, append() doesn’t return a new list of items; it returns no value. It just modifies the original list by adding the item to the end of the list.
After executing append() on a list, the size of the original list increases by one. The item in the list can be a string, number, dictionary, or even another list (because a list is an object too). When a list is appended to the original list, it is added as a single object. The addition of the appended list happens, as usual, at the end of the original list.
Python’s eval() function is a built-in function that evaluates a specified expression and executes it if it’s a legal Python statement. In simpler words, eval() evaluates the given string like a Python expression and returns a number as the result of that evaluation.
In Python, eval() works by parsing the expression argument and evaluating it as a Python expression. eval() is usually used in Python when there’s a need to either evaluate mathematical expressions or evaluate the string into code.
Python getattr() function is a built-in function used to access the attribute value of an object. We also use it to execute the default value if the attribute/key does not exist. The conventional method of accessing the attribute value generally takes less time than getattr(). But if we need to use default values in case of missing attributes, getattr() is appropriate.
We use the Python function getattr() in web developments involving optional form attributes. We also use it in Machine Learning feature collection cases, where features go missing at times in data collection.
The join() function in Python is a built-in string method. It joins all elements in an iterable with a given string separator into one string. It returns a string with all the elements joined with the desired separator. Please note that the desired separator can only be of the type string. Also, the elements inside the iterable need to be strings.
Python’s lower() function converts all the uppercase characters in a string to lowercase characters and returns the modified string.
One common application of the lower() function in Python is to check if the given two strings are the same or not. We’ll show you how to do this using an example later in the post.
Note: If you want to convert all characters in a string to uppercase, use the Python function upper(). And if you’re going to swap between lowercase and uppercase, use the swapcase() function in Python.
Python’s upper() function converts all the lowercase characters in a string to uppercase characters and returns the modified string. One common application of the upper() function in Python is to check if the given two strings are the same or not. We’ll show you how to do this using an example later in the post.
Note: If you want to convert all characters in a string to lowercase, use the Python function lower(). And if you’re going to swap between lowercase and uppercase, use the swapcase() function in Python.
The max() function returns the maximum value in an iterable or out of two or more given values in Python. It can be used in two forms: with objects or with iterables. Unlike max() in C/C++, in Python, max() can take in any type of object and return the largest object.
The function that will form the basis for our maximum value calculation can also be specified. For example, we can evaluate the max value of strings based on lexicography, string length, etc.
For strings, it by default returns the lexicographically largest value. However, we can specify the basis of max calculation to be another function like “len” for string length. Finally, when we pass an iterable to max() in Python, it returns the largest item in the iterable.
The min() function returns the minimum value in an iterable or out of two or more given values in Python. It can be used in two forms: with objects or with iterables. Unlike min() in C/C++, in Python, min() can take in any type of a set of objects and return the largest object.
The function that will form the basis for our minimum value calculation can also be specified. For example, we can evaluate the min value of strings based on lexicography, string length, etc. For strings, it by default returns the lexicographically smallest character.
However, we can specify the basis of min calculation to be another function like “len” for string length. Finally, when we pass an iterable to min() in Python, it returns the smallest item in the iterable.
Python range() function is a built-in function we can use to generate a sequence of numbers within a given range. Through the number of arguments passed to the function, we can control where that sequence of numbers will begin and end, along with the difference between two consecutive numbers in the series.
Python range() function is often used to iterate through a sequence using a for or while loop.
Python’s reduce() function implements a mathematical technique called folding or reduction. This technique involves reducing a list of items to a single cumulative value. Python’s reduce() operates on any iterable. Also, for using reduce() in Python 3.x, reduce() needs first to be imported using an import statement to the current scope.
reduce() takes an existing function and applies it cumulatively to every item in the given iterable. It returns a single return value. Here’s how it works:
The built-in function replace() in Python replaces all or some specified number of occurrences of a substring in the original string with a different substring. It returns a copy of the original string with instances of the old substring replaced with the new desired substring.
The round() function in Python rounds a number to a specific decimal place and returns a floating-point number rounded as per our specifications. It takes the following arguments:
The number of decimal places is set to zero by default. So the round() function returns the nearest integer to the number passed if the number is the only argument passed.
Python’s slice() function returns a slice object that specifies how to slice a sequence. We can set where to start and end the slicing as well as the slicing step size. The sequence of objects to be sliced can be of any type, such as tuple, string, bytes, list, range, the object that implements __getitem__() and __len__(), etc.
Python sorted() function returns a sorted list with elements taken from an iterable object. The sorted() function sorts any sequence. This sequence can be, say, like a tuple or a list. sorted() always returns a list with the elements in sorted order. If you’re wondering how to sort a list in Python without the sort() function, you can use sorted(). Note that sorted() does not modify the original sequence.
The split() function in Python operates on strings. It takes a string as input and splits it wherever it encounters a “separator” (a character that acts as a marker for the split). The output is a list of strings, where the elements are the individual parts of the input string after the splits.
By default, split() assumes the separator to be whitespace (“ ”). So if we call the split() function for a typical English sentence, the output would be a list of words in that sentence. Suppose the input is a string of words separated by commas (“,”), and we specify that the separator should be the comma character. In that case, the output will be a list where the elements are the individual words of the input string.
Python’s strip() function is a built-in function that removes specific leading and trailing characters from the start and end of the original string. These characters to remove are given as an argument to strip() for removal.
If we provide no string as an argument, the strip() function removes the leading and trailing whitespaces as a default. If no leading or trailing strings match the argument, the new string returned is the same as the original string.
Q1. What are the most useful functions in Python?
Some of the most useful functions in Python are print(), abs(), round(), min(), max(), sorted(), sum(), and len().
Q2. Why are functions used in Python?
Functions are just bundled sets of instructions that we can repeatedly use without having to write them again. They make the code more concise and readable in any language, including Python.
Q3. What are the four types of functions in Python?
Built-in, recursion, lambda, and user-defined functions are Python’s four types of functions.
Q4. What are upper() and lower() functions in Python?
Both upper() and lower() functions are built-in functions for string handling in Python. For a given string, upper() converts the string to all uppercase, while lower() converts the string to all lowercase.
Q5. How many built-in Python functions are there?
Python 3.6 has 67 built-in functions!
Whether you’re a coding engineer gunning for a software developer or software engineer role, a tech lead, or targeting management positions at top companies, IK offers courses specifically designed for your needs to help you with your technical interview preparation!
If you’re looking for guidance and help with getting started, sign up for our FREE webinar. As pioneers in technical interview preparation, we have trained thousands of software engineers to crack the most challenging coding interviews and land jobs at their dream companies, such as Google, Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Amazon, and more!
Attend our webinar on
"How to nail your next tech interview" and learn