Use Python’s built-in `min()`

function with a key argument to find the shortest string in a list. Call `min(lst, key=len)`

to return the shortest string in `lst`

using the built-in `len()`

function to associate the weight of each string—the shortest string will be the minimum.

## Problem Formulation

Given a Python list of strings. Find the string with the minimum number of characters—the shortest string in the list.

Here are a few example list of strings and the desired output:

# ['Alice', 'Bob', 'Pete'] ----> 'Bob' # ['aaa', 'aaaa', 'aa'] ----> 'aa' # [''] ----> '' # [] ----> ''

## Solution: min() function with key function argument len()

Use Python’s built-in `min()`

function with a key argument to find the shortest string in a list. Call `min(lst, key=len)`

to return the shortest string in `lst`

using the built-in `len()`

function to associate the weight of each string—the shortest string will be the minimum.

Here’s the code definition of the `get_min_str()`

function that takes a list of strings as input and returns the shortest string in the list or a `ValueError`

if the list is empty.

def get_min_str(lst): return min(lst, key=len)

Here’s the output for our desired examples:

print(get_min_str(['Alice', 'Bob', 'Pete'])) # 'Bob' print(get_min_str(['aaa', 'aaaa', 'aa'])) # 'aa' print(get_min_str([''])) # '' print(get_min_str([])) # ValueError

## Border Case: What if the List is Empty?

If you want to return an alternative value in case the list is empty, you can modify the `get_min_str()`

function to include a second optional argument:

def get_min_str(lst, fallback=''): return min(lst, key=len) if lst else fallback print(get_min_str([])) # '' print(get_min_str([], fallback='NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!')) # NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

## Solution with For Loop

A less Pythonic but, for beginner coders, more readable version is the following loop-based:

def get_min_str(lst, fallback=''): if not lst: return fallback min_str = lst[0] # list is not empty for x in lst: if len(x) < len(min_str): min_str = x return min_str print(get_min_str(['Alice', 'Bob', 'Pete'])) # 'Bob' print(get_min_str(['aaa', 'aaaa', 'aa'])) # 'aa' print(get_min_str([''])) # '' print(get_min_str([], fallback='NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!')) # NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

🌍 **Related Tutorial**: How to Find the Longest String in a Python List?

## Python Min Length of String in List

To find the minimum length of a string in a given list, you can use the `min(lst, key=len)`

function to obtain the string with the minimum length and then pass this min string into the `len()`

function to obtain the number of characters of the min string.

**len(min(lst, key=len))**

Here’s a more detailed example:

def get_min_length(lst): return len(min(lst, key=len)) print(get_min_length(['Alice', 'Bob', 'Pete'])) # 3 print(get_min_length(['aaa', 'aaaa', 'aa'])) # 2 print(get_min_length([''])) # 0 print(get_min_length([])) # Value Error!!!

## Python Find Shortest String in Set

To find the shortest string in a Python set, use Python’s built-in `min()`

function with a key argument: `min(my_set, key=len)`

returns the shortest string in `my_set`

using the built-in `len()`

function to determine the weight of each string—the shortest string will be the minimum.

Here’s the code definition of the `get_min_str()`

function that takes a set of strings as input and returns the shortest string in the set or a `ValueError`

if the set is empty.

def get_min_str(my_set): return min(my_set, key=len) print(get_min_str({'Alice', 'Bob', 'Pete'})) # 'Bob' print(get_min_str({'aaa', 'aaaa', 'aa'})) # 'aa' print(get_min_str({''})) # '' print(get_min_str({})) # ValueError: min() arg is an empty sequence

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