A Comprehensive Guide to maxsplit in Python

Summary: maxsplit is one of the optional parameters used in the split() function. If maxsplit is specified within the split function, then the maximum number of splits done will be given by the specified maxsplit. Thus, the list will have at most maxsplit + 1 elements. If maxsplit is not specified or set to -1, then there is no limit on the number of splits (all the possible splits are made).

Minimal Example

cols = 'Red, Black, White, Yellow, Pink'

# Maxsplit 0
print(cols.split(', ', 0))
# ['Red, Black, White, Yellow, Pink']

# Maxsplit 1
print(cols.split(', ', 1))
# ['Red', 'Black, White, Yellow, Pink']

# Maxsplit 3
print(cols.split(', ', 3))
# ['Red', 'Black', 'White', 'Yellow, Pink']

# Maxsplit 5
print(cols.split(', ', 5))
# ['Red', 'Black', 'White', 'Yellow', 'Pink']

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn everything you need to know about maxsplit in Python.

What is Maxsplit Anyways?

Before you understand what maxsplit does, it is important to understand what the split function does. The split() function in Python splits the string at a given separator and returns a split list of substrings.

Syntax and Explanation:
str.split(sep = None, maxsplit = -1)

πŸš€ maxsplit is an optional parameter that defines the maximum number of splits (the list will have at most maxsplit + 1 elements). If maxsplit is not provided or defined as -1, then there is no limit on the number of splits (all the possible splits get made).

πŸ¦…Related Read: Python String split()

How Many Elements will The List Contain when Maxsplit is Specified?

When the maxsplit is specified, the list will have a maximum of maxsplit + 1 items. Look at the following examples to understand this better.

text = 'Python Java C Ruby'

# Example 1
print(text.split(' ', 0))
# ['Python Java C Ruby']

# Example 2
print(text.split(' ', 2))
# ['Python', 'Java', 'C Ruby']

# Example 3
print(text.split(' ', -1))
# ['Python', 'Java', 'C', 'Ruby']

Explanation: In the first example, the maxsplit gets set to 0. Hence the list will have a maximum of one item. In the second example, maxsplit is set to 2, therefore the resultant list will have 2+1 = 3 items. Note that in the third example, maxsplit gets specified as -1; hence by default all the possible splits have been made.

Will the split() Function Work if You Don’t Specify Any Parameter?


txt = 'Welcome to the world of Python'
# ['Welcome', 'to', 'the', 'world', 'of', 'Python']

The split() function works perfectly fine even when no arguments are specified. In the above example, no separator and no maxsplit has been specified. It takes the default separator (space) to split the string. By default, the maxsplit value is -1. So the string gets split wherever a space is found. Meaning the maximum number of splits will be performed.

Split a List up to a Maximum Number of Elements

Problem:Β  Given a list; How will you split the list up to a maximum number of elements?

Example: Let’s visualize the problem with a real problem asked in StackOverflow.

source: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/58952417/split-a-list-up-to-a-maximum-number-of-elements

Discussion: The question essentially requires you to split the first and the second item/row into 7 columns such that the expected output resembles the following: [['6697', '1100.0', '90.0', '0.0', '0.0', '6609', '!'], ['701', '0.0', '0.0', '83.9', '1.5', '000', '!AFR-AHS IndHS-AFR']]


rot = ['6697 1100.0   90.0    0.0    0.0  6609 !',
       '701  0.0   0.0    83.9   1.5    000 !AFR-AHS IndHS-AFR']

for i in range(len(rot)):
    rot[i] = rot[i].split(maxsplit=6)


# [['6697', '1100.0', '90.0', '0.0', '0.0', '6609', '!'], ['701', '0.0', '0.0', '83.9', '1.5', '000', '!AFR-AHS IndHS-AFR']]

Explanation: Use the split() method and specify the maxsplit argument as the maximum number of elements in the list that you want to group. In this case, you need seven splits. Hence, the maxsplit can be set to 6 to achieve the final output.


text = “abc_kjh_olp_xyz”
Challenge: Split the given string only at the first occurrence of the underscore “_”
Expected Output:
[‘abc’, ‘kjh_olp_xyz’]


text = "abc_kjh_olp_xyz"
print(text.split("_", maxsplit=1))

πŸ¦…Related Read: Python Split String at First Occurrence


That was all about the maxsplit parameter from the split() function in Python. I hope this article helped you to gain an in-depth insight into the maxsplit parameter. Please subscribe and stay tuned for more interesting articles! Happy coding.

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