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19/04/2018 Categories: Python Programming. No Comments on Exception Handling in Python



An error is an abnormal condition that results in unexpected behavior of a program. Common kinds of errors are syntax errors and logical errors. Syntax errors arise due to poor understanding of the language. Logical errors arise due to poor understanding of the problem and its solution.


Anomalies that occur at runtime are known as exceptions. Exceptions are of two types: synchronous exceptions and asynchronous exceptions. Synchronous exceptions are caused due to mistakes in the logic of the program and can be controlled. Asynchronous exceptions are caused due to hardware failure or operating system level failures and cannot be controlled.


Examples of synchronous exceptions are: divide by zero, array index out of bounds, etc.) . Examples of asynchronous exceptions are: out of memory error, memory overflow, memory underflow, disk failure, etc. Overview of errors and exceptions in Python is as follows:




Handling Exceptions


Flowchart for exception handling process is as follows:




We can handle exceptions in Python code using try and except blocks. Statements which can raise exceptions are placed in try block. Code that handles the exception is placed in except block. The code that handles an exception is known as exception handler and this process is known as exception handling.


try and except


Syntax for using try and except for exception handling is as follows:



Following is an example for handling divide by zero exception using try and except blocks:



Multiple Except Blocks


Often, there will be a need to handle more than one exception raised by a try block. To handle multiple exceptions, we can write multiple except blocks as shown below:



Following is an example for handling multiple exceptions using multiple except blocks:



In the previous example for input 10 and 0, the output displayed is “Denominator cannot be zero”. When the divide by zero exception was triggered in try block, first two except blocks were skipped as the type of exception didn’t match with either NameError or ValueError. So, third except block was executed.


Multiple Exceptions in a Single Block


We can handle multiple exceptions using a single except block as follows:



Following is an example which demonstrates handling multiple exceptions using a single except block:



Handle Any Exception


In some cases, we might want to execute the same code (handler) for any type of exception. Such common handler can be created using except as follows:



Following is an example which demonstrates handling any exception with a single except block:



else Clause


The try and except blocks can be followed by an optional else block. The code in else block executes only when there is no exception in the try block. The else block can be used to execute housekeeping code like code to free the resources that are being used.


Raising Exceptions


We can raise exceptions manually even though there are no exceptions using the raise keyword. Syntax of raise statement is as follows:



ExceptionName is the type of exception we want to raise. Args are the exception arguments and traceback is the traceback object used for the exception. Following is an example for demonstrating raise keyword:



In the above code NameError exception is raised by the raise statement and is handled by the except block.


Re-raising Exceptions


In Python, we can re-raise the exceptions in the except block by writing raise keyword. Following code demonstrates re-raising exceptions:



Handling Exceptions in Functions


We can use try and except blocks inside functions as we are using until now. In the try block, we can call a function. If this function raises an exception, it can be handled by the except block which follows the try block. Following example demonstrates handling exceptions in functions:



finally block


A try block must be followed by one or more except blocks or one finally block. A finally block contains code that executes irrespective of whether an exception occurs or not. Syntax for finally block is as follows:



The finally block is generally used to write resource freeing code. We cannot write a else block along with finally block.


Built-in Exceptions


There are several built-in or pre-defined exceptions in Python. Python automatically recognizes the built-in exceptions and handles them appropriately. Following are some of the built-in exceptions in Python:


Exception Description
Exception Base class for all exceptions
StandardError Base class for all built-in exceptions (excluding StopIteration and SystemExit)
SystemExit Raised by sys.exit() function
ArithmeticError Base class for errors generated by mathematical calculations
OverflowError Raised when the maximum limit of a numeric type exceeds
FloatingPointError Raised when a floating point error could not be raised
ZeroDivisionError Raised when a number is divided by zero
AssertionError Raised when the assert statement fails
AttributeError Raised when attribute reference or assignment fails
EOFError Raised when end-of-file is reached or there is no input for input() function
ImportError Raised when an import statement fails
LookupError Base class for all lookup errors
IndexError Raised when an index is not found in a sequence
KeyError Raised when a key is not found in the dictionary
NameError Raised when an identifier is not found in local or global namespace
IOError Raised when input or output operation fails
SyntaxError Raised when there is syntax error in the program
ValueError Raised when the value of an argument is invalid
RuntimeError Raised when the generated error does not fall into any of the above categories
NotImplementedError Raised when an abstract method that needs to be implemented is not implemented in the derived class
TypeError Raised when two incompatible types are used in an operation



User-defined Exceptions


If the pre-defined exceptions doesn’t handle your custom error condition, we can create our own exceptions. Such exceptions are known as user-defined or custom exceptions. Steps in creating custom exceptions:


  1. Create a new class and extend Exception class.
  2. Raise the custom exception.
  3. Handle the custom exception.


Following example demonstrates creating and using a user-defined exception:



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