This article will detail out map() function in python, its use and syntax with example. It will also cover how to use lambda functions with map().

map() function
Python map() function is used to modify the items of an iterable to create another iterable.
Iterable here means anything that can be iterated or loop over such as a set, list, string.
The value returned by map() function is an object of class map which is also an iterable and hence it can be converted to a set, list, string.
Syntax
Syntax of map() function is

map(function, iterable)

map() function accepts two arguments:
1. A function that transforms some value and returns it. This value is then added to the iterable returned by map().
2. An iterable whose elements are transformed by map().
map() example
Suppose we have a list of numbers and we want to generate another list whose elements are square of this list. Python code using map() function will be

# Function that performs square of its argument
def square(num):
    return num **2

# list of numbers
numbers = [1,2,3,4,5]
# call map function
m = map(square, numbers)
# print the type of return value
print(type(m))
# convert map to list
squares = list(m)
print('Original List:', numbers)
print('List of squares:', squares)

This prints

<class ‘map’>
Original List: [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
List of squares: [1, 4, 9, 16, 25]

Explanation
map() function accepts a function as argument. This function accepts a value and returns its square.
Note that there is no parenthesis around the function name. This is because parenthesis means that we are passing its return value.
Second argument to map() is a list, which is an iterable. Each element of the list is implicitly passed to the function whose return value is then added to the resultant iterable.

Notice the output where the type of return value of map() is an object of class map. Objects of map class are iterables, hence it is passed to the list constructor to create a list out of it.

Return value from map can be directly converted to a list without assigning it to an intermediate variable as

squares = list(map(square, numbers))

Convert to upper case with map()
Below is an example to convert elements of a list in lower case to upper case using map() function.
First step would be to create a function which accepts a character and returns it after converting to upper case.
Second is to define a list with some letters in lower case.
Finally, invoke map() with the function name and list of lower case characters as arguments and convert its return value to a list.
Python code follows

# Function to convert to upper case
def convert_to_upper(letter):
    return letter.upper()

# define a list
message = ['p','y','t','h','o', 'n']

# invoke map
upper = list(map(convert_to_upper, message))
print('Original List:', message)
print('Upper case List:', upper)

This prints

Original List: [‘p’, ‘y’, ‘t’, ‘h’, ‘o’, ‘n’]
Upper case List: [‘P’, ‘Y’, ‘T’, ‘H’, ‘O’, ‘N’]

Cloning list with map()
map() function can also be used to create a copy of list or clone it. Simply return the value from the argument function as it is without any modification.
Example,

# argument function 
def return_value(val):
    return val
# define a list
message = ['p','y','t','h','o', 'n']

# invoke map function
copy = list(map(return_value, message))

# modify the first element
copy[0] = 'P'
print('Original List:', message)
print('Copy List:', copy)

Above example creates a list using map() function. Note that the argument function does nothing with the value received, it simply returns it.

First element of the copy list is changed and both the lists are then printed. Here is the output.

Original List: [‘p’, ‘y’, ‘t’, ‘h’, ‘o’, ‘n’]
Upper case List: [‘P’, ‘y’, ‘t’, ‘h’, ‘o’, ‘n’]

Original list remains unchanged. This means that we are successful at cloning the list.
map() with lambda
A lambda in python is a function without a name or an anonymous function. Lambda functions are defined at the place where they need to be used.
A lambda is defined using the keyword lambda with the below syntax

lambda <arguments>: <function body>

map() requires a function as its first argument. It is not required to create a separate function just for passing it as argument to map().
Instead create a lambda function and pass it directly. Thus, the earlier example which creates a list of squares can be modified to use a lambda function as

# list of numbers
numbers = [1,2,3,4,5]
# call map function
m = map(lambda n: n ** 2, numbers)
# convert map to list
squares = list(m)
print('Original List:', numbers)
print('List of squares:', squares)

Note that we are not required to create a separate function to calculate the square of a number.
Result is

Original List: [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

List of squares: [1, 4, 9, 16, 25]

map() with multiple arguments
Till now we only looked at map() with argument function taking only one parameter. But we may also need to supply multiple parameters to it.

Remember that we need to supply equal number of iterables as the number of parameters expected by the function.
Below is an example that adds elements of two lists and assigns them to a third list.

# Function to add two numbers
def add(num1, num2):
    return num1+num2

list1 = [1,2,3,4,5]
list2 = [6,7,8,9,10]
sum = list(map(add, list1, list2))
print('List one:', list1)
print('List two:', list2)
print('Sum of lists:', sum)

Note that in this example, the function takes two arguments and there are an equal number of lists. map() iterates over all the iterables, takes a value from all of these and passes them to the function.

Output is

List one: [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
List two: [6, 7, 8, 9, 10]
Sum of lists: [7, 9, 11, 13, 15]

Above code written using a lambda function is given below.

list1 = [1,2,3,4,5]
list2 = [6,7,8,9,10]
sum = list(map(lambda x,y: x+y, list1, list2))
print('List one:', list1)
print('List two:', list2)
print('sum of lists:', sum)

Now there is no need to define a separate function to add two numbers as lambda function does this inline.

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