Literals in Python

As a Python programmer, you may have heard the term “literal” being used in various contexts. But what exactly does it mean in the context of programming?

Understanding Literals in Python

In general, a literal is a fixed value that appears directly in the source code of a program. In Python, there are several types of literals, including:

  • Numeric literals: representing integers, floats, and complex numbers. For example: ‘42‘, ‘3.14‘, ‘2+3j’.
  • String literals: representing sequences of characters. They can be written using single or double quotes, and can span multiple lines if enclosed in triple quotes. For example: ‘hello’, “world”, “””Hello, World!”””.
  • Boolean literals: representing the truth values True and False.
  • None literal: representing the absence of a value or a null value. It is written as None.

In addition to these basic literals, Python also supports several more advanced types of literals, such as:

  • List literals: representing ordered sequences of values. They are written using square brackets and separated by commas. For example: [1, 2, 3], [‘a’, ‘b’, ‘c’].
  • Tuple literals: similar to list literals, but they are immutable. They are written using parentheses and separated by commas. For example: (1, 2, 3), (‘a’, ‘b’, ‘c’).
  • Dictionary literals: representing key-value pairs. They are written using curly braces and separated by commas, with the key and value separated by a colon. For example: {‘a’: 1, ‘b’: 2, ‘c’: 3}, {1: ‘a’, 2: ‘b’, 3: ‘c’}.
  • Set literals: representing unordered collections of unique values. They are written using curly braces and separated by commas. For example: {1, 2, 3}, {‘a’, ‘b’, ‘c’}.

It is important to note that literals are different from variables, which are used to store values that can be modified during the execution of a program. For example, in the following code snippet, x is a variable, while 42 and ‘hello’ are literals:

x = 42
y = 'hello'

I hope this helps clarify what literals are and how they are used in Python. As you continue learning the language, you will encounter and use these and other types of literals in your programs.

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