Python Return Tuple From Function

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Do you need to create a function that returns a tuple but you don’t know how? No worries, in sixty seconds, you’ll know! Go! ?

A Python function can return any object such as a tuple. To return a tuple, first create the tuple object within the function body, assign it to a variable your_tuple, and return it to the caller of the function using the keyword operation “return your_tuple“.

For example, the following code creates a function create_tuple() that adds all numbers 0, 1, 2, …, 9 to the tuple your_tuple, and returns the tuple to the caller of the function:

def create_tuple():
    ''' Function to return tuple '''
    your_tuple = (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
    return your_tuple

numbers = create_tuple()
# (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

Note that you store the resulting tuple in the variable numbers. The local variable your_tuple that you created within the function body is only visible within the function but not outside of it. So, if you try to access the name your_tuple, Python will raise a NameError:

>>> print(your_tuple)
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "", line 9, in <module>
NameError: name 'your_tuple' is not defined

To fix this, simply assign the return value of the function — a tuple — to a new variable and access the content of this new variable:

>>> numbers = create_tuple()
>>> print(numbers)
(0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

Alternatively, the caller can use multiple assignment to catch all tuple values individually like so:

a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i = create_tuple()

print(a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i)
# 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

There are many other ways to return a tuple from a function in Python. For example, you can use a generator expression statement instead that is much more concise than the previous code—but creates the same tuple of numbers:

def create_tuple():
    ''' Function to return tuple '''
    return tuple(i for i in range(10))

numbers = create_tuple()
# (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

With generator expressions, you can dynamically create a tuple by using the syntax (expression context). You iterate over all elements in a given context “for i in range(10)“, and apply a certain expression, e.g., the identity expression i, before adding the resulting values to the newly-created tuple.

In case you need to learn more about generator expressions, feel free to check out the excellent explainer video from Finxter Creator David:

Understanding Generators In Python

Related Article: A Simple Introduction to Generator Expressions in Python

An interesting way to return a tuple from a function is to use lambda functions.

A lambda function is an anonymous function in Python. It starts with the keyword lambda, followed by a comma-separated list of zero or more arguments, followed by the colon and the return expression. Use the tuple() constructor to create and return a tuple object.

The following code snippet uses a combination of features.

  • The lambda function dynamically creates a function object and assigns it to the variable create_tuple. You can then call the function like before with create_tuple().
  • The generator expression creates a tuple and return it at the same time in a single line of code—it cannot get more concise than that.
create_tuple = lambda : tuple(i for i in range(10))

numbers = create_tuple()
# (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

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