Python Tuple to Integer

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You have a tuple of integers—but you want a single integer. What can you do?

Problem Formulation and Solution Overview

Given a tuple of values.

t = (1, 2, 3)

Goal: Convert the tuple to a single integer value.

If you simply pass a tuple t into the int(t) built-in function, Python will raise a TypeError: int() argument must be a string, a bytes-like object or a number, not 'tuple'.

t = (1, 2, 3)
int(t)

This doesn’t work! Here’s the error message that appears if you try to do this direct conversion from tuple to int:

TypeError: int() argument must be a string, a bytes-like object or a number, not 'tuple'

In principle, there are two ways of converting a tuple to an integer and avoiding this TypeError:

  • Select one of the tuple elements tuple[i] using tuple indexing of the i-th tuple element.
  • Aggregate the tuple elements to a single integer value, e.g., summing over all tuple elements or combining their string aggregation.

Let’s get a quick overview in our interactive Python shell:

Exercise: Modify method 2 to calculate the average and round to the next integer!

Let’s dive into each of the methods.

Method 1: sum()

The first way of converting a tuple to an integer is to sum up all values. The sum() function is built-in in Python and you can use it on any iterable:

The syntax is sum(iterable, start=0):

ArgumentDescription
iterableSum over all elements in the iterable. This can be a list, a tuple, a set, or any other data structure that allows you to iterate over the elements.
Example: sum([1, 2, 3]) returns 1+2+3=6.
start(Optional.) The default start value is 0. If you define another start value, the sum of all values in the iterable will be added to this start value.
Example: sum([1, 2, 3], 9) returns 9+1+2+3=15.

Here’s how you can use the sum() function to sum over all values in an iterable (such as a tuple):

# Method 1: sum()
t = (1, 2, 3)
i = sum(t)
print(i)
# 6

In this case, it calculates 1+2+3=6. You can learn more about the sum() function on this Finxter blog article.

But what if you want to use all tuple values as digits of a larger integer value?

Method 2: str() + list comprehension + join()

List comprehension is a compact way of creating lists. The simple formula is [expression + context].

  • Expression: What to do with each list element?
  • Context: What elements to select? The context consists of an arbitrary number of for and if statements.

You can use it in combination with the sum() function to calculate the integer 123 from the tuple (1, 2, 3)—by using the tuple values as digits of the larger integer.

# Method 2: str() + list comprehension + join()
t = (1, 2, 3)
i = ''.join(str(x) for x in t)
print(int(i))
# 123

Well, to be frank, we didn’t even use list comprehension here—the correct term for str(x) for x in t is “generator expression”. The difference to list comprehension is that it creates a generator instead of a list.

If you like functional programming, you may like the following method:

Method 3: str() + map() + join()

The map() function creates a new iterable from an iterable by applying a function to each element of the original iterable:

You can pass the str() function into the map() function to convert each tuple element to a string.

Then, you can join all strings together to a big string. After converting the big string to an integer, you’ve successfully merged all tuple integers to a big integer value.

# Method 3: str() + map() + join()
t = (1, 2, 3)
i = ''.join(map(str, t))
print(i)
# 123

There are many details to the string.join() method. You can read the detailed tutorial on the Finxter blog. Here’s the short version:

The string.join(iterable) method concatenates all the string elements in the iterable (such as a list, string, or tuple) and returns the result as a new string. The string on which you call it is the delimiter string—and it separates the individual elements. For example, '-'.join(['hello', 'world']) returns the joined string 'hello-world'.

Method 4: Multiple Assignments

If you simply want to get multiple integers by assigning the individual tuple values to integer variables, just use the multiple assignment feature:

# Method 4: multiple assignments
t = (1, 2, 3)
a, b, c = t
print(a)
print(b)
print(c)
'''
1
2
3
'''

Variables a, b, and c have the values 1, 2, and 3, respectively.

Method 5: Reduce Function

After writing this article, I realized that there’s a fifth way to convert a tuple to an integer value:

To convert a tuple to an integer value, use the reduce() function from the functools library in combination with the lambda function to aggregate the elements using any binary aggregator function such as multiplication, addition, subtraction like so:

  • Multiplication: functools.reduce(lambda aggregate, element: aggregate * element, t)
  • Addition: functools.reduce(lambda aggregate, element: aggregate + element, t)
  • Subtraction: functools.reduce(lambda aggregate, element: aggregate - element, t)

Here’s a basic example using the multiplication aggregation for starters:

import functools

t = (1, 2, 3)

res = functools.reduce(lambda aggregate, element: aggregate * element, t)
print(res)
# 6

Here’s a basic example using the addition aggregation:

import functools

t = (1, 2, 3)

res = functools.reduce(lambda aggregate, element: aggregate + element, t)
print(res)
# 6

Here’s a basic example using the subtraction aggregation:

import functools

t = (1, 2, 3)

res = functools.reduce(lambda aggregate, element: aggregate - element, t)
print(res)
# -4

In case you need some repetition or additional information on the reduce() function, run this video:

💡 Info: The reduce() function from Python’s functools module aggregates an iterable to a single element. It repeatedly merges two iterable elements into a single one as defined in the function argument. By repeating this, only a single element will remain — the return value.

Where to Go From Here?

Enough theory. Let’s get some practice!

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