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Learning Python, 4th Edition by Mark Lutz

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Chapter 7. Strings

The next major type on our built-in object tour is the Python string—an ordered collection of characters used to store and represent text-based information. We looked briefly at strings in Chapter 4. Here, we will revisit them in more depth, filling in some of the details we skipped then.

From a functional perspective, strings can be used to represent just about anything that can be encoded as text: symbols and words (e.g., your name), contents of text files loaded into memory, Internet addresses, Python programs, and so on. They can also be used to hold the absolute binary values of bytes, and multibyte Unicode text used in internationalized programs.

You may have used strings in other languages, too. Python’s strings serve the same role as character arrays in languages such as C, but they are a somewhat higher-level tool than arrays. Unlike in C, in Python, strings come with a powerful set of processing tools. Also unlike languages such as C, Python has no distinct type for individual characters; instead, you just use one-character strings.

Strictly speaking, Python strings are categorized as immutable sequences, meaning that the characters they contain have a left-to-right positional order and that they cannot be changed in-place. In fact, strings are the first representative of the larger class of objects called sequences that we will study here. Pay special attention to the sequence operations introduced in this chapter, because they will work the same on other ...

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