My Blog
Articles related to programming, computer science, technology and research.

19/04/2018 Categories: Python Programming. 2 Comments on Standard Libraries in Python

Introduction to Standard Library


A library is a set of files which contains pre-defined code that we can use in our own programs. For example in our Python programs we are using print() and input() for printing and reading input. These functions are a part of Python’s default library.


Python’s standard library is a collection of several modules which will be installed by default when you install Python. There are other third party libraries which need to be installed separately after installing Python. Some examples of third party libraries are: NumPy, SciPy, ScikitLearn etc.


Python standard library contains several modules for performing several operations from sending email messages to creating a basic HTTP server. Some of the tasks that can be done using Python’s standard library are:


  • Text manipulation
  • Creating and working with data structures
  • Date and time manipulation
  • Mathematical calculations
  • File system access
  • Data access and storage
  • Data compression
  • Cryptography
  • Process and thread management
  • Networking
  • Internet access and management
  • Email functionality
  • Internationalization and Localization
  • Testing
  • Operating system interfacing


Operating System Interface


The os module provides a portable interface to most of the operating systems like Windows, Linux, Mac OS X etc. It provides functions for creating and managing processes, file system access, and other functionality. Following are some of the functions available in os module:


Function Description
getuid( ) Returns the user id for the process
geteuid( ) Returns the effective user id for the process
getgid( ) Returns the group id to which the user belongs
getegid( ) Returns the effective group id to which the user belongs
getenv(variable_name) Returns the value of specified environment variable
getcwd( ) Returns the current working directory
chdir(new_dir ) Moves the current working directory to the specified new directory
stat(filename) Returns information of a file like file size, permissions, owner, etc.
chmod(filename, new_permissions) Assigns new permissions to the specified filename



String Pattern Matching


We can search for a specific pattern in a given string using regular expressions. Regular expressions provide a formal syntax for searching a given pattern in a string. Regular expressions in Python follows Perl syntax. Regular expressions are implemented in Python by the re module.


The function start() takes in two arguments. First argument is the pattern we want to search and the second argument is the text in which we want to search. The start() functions returns a Match object.


The Match object contains start() and end() functions which returns the starting and ending index of the pattern in the string. Consider the following example:



The above code prints 11 13 as the output. The pattern in this example is ‘aa’ and the text is ‘My name is aakaash’.


The function findall() takes pattern and text as input and returns all substrings matching pattern in the given text. The function finditer() also takes pattern and text as input and returns an iterator that produces Match objects. Consider the following example which returns the multiple occurrences of the pattern:





It is common in Python programs to perform mathematical operations. Operators provide support for performing basic mathematical operations. Python’s standard library provides support for performing advanced mathematical operations like generating random numbers, finding logarithmic values, performing trigonometric calculations etc.


To generate pseudo random numbers, we can use the random module. The pseudo random number generator of Python is based on Mersenne Twister algorithm. Following are some of the functions available in random module:


Function Description
random( ) Returns a floating-point value in the range 0 to 1.0
uniform(start, end) Returns a floating-point value in the range start to end
seed(value) Sets the seed value of random number generator
randint(start, end) Returns an integer in the range start to end
randrange(start, end, step) Returns an integer in the range start to end. It is equivalent to selecting a random number from range(start, end, step)
choice(sequence) Selects a random item from the given sequence
sample(sequence, n) Generates n samples from the sequence without repeating values



The math module contains several functions which are useful for performing advanced mathematical computations. Following are some of the constants and functions available in math module:


Element Description
pi Prints the mathematical value of .
e Prints the mathematical value of e.
trunc(float) Returns an integer value without the decimal part
ceil(float) Returns the integer greater than or equal to the given number
floor(float) Returns the integer lesser than or equal to the given number
modf(float) Returns a tuple containing the fractional part and the whole part
fabs(float) Returns the absolute value of the given floating-point value
fsum(list of float values) Returns the sum of floating-point values
factorial(int) Returns the factorial of given integer value
pow(x, y) Returns a floating-point value which represents the xy
sqrt(x) Returns a floating-point value which represents the square root of x
log(x) Returns a floating-point value which represents natural log. value of x
Log(x, b) Returns a floating-point value which represents log. value with base b



Internet Access


Internet access is required for almost any kind of real world application. Even a single script can access a remote server and retrieve information or store data to it. Python provides several modules to create web-based applications.


The urlparse module allows to manipulate URLs, i.e., splitting them or combining the individual components together to form an URL. It can be useful either in a client program or in a server program. Following are some of the functions available in urlparse module:


Function Description
urlparse(string) Takes an URL as a string and returns a tuple containing the individual components of an URL like: scheme, netloc, path, params, query, and fragment
urlsplit(string) This function is an alternative to urlpase( ) function
geturl( ) Returns the parsed URL
urlunparse(tuple) Takes a tuple and combines the elements in the tuple in to an URL



The urllib module provides various functions that allows our script to access network resources that do not need any authentication. It also provides support for encoding and appending arguments to be passed over HTTP to a server. Some of the functions in the urllib module are as follows:


Function Description
urlretrieve( ) Takes four arguments: temporary filename an URL, a function to report the download progress, and data to pass if the URL refers to a form.
urlcleanup( ) Removes the temporary files.
urlencode( ) Takes a dictionary containing data in the form of key value pairs and appends them to the URL.
urlopen( ) Takes an URL as a string and returns a handle to the remote resource.



Dates and Times


Python does not provide native types to handle dates and times. Python’s standard library provides three modules which allows us to work with dates and times.


The time module contains functions to work with clock time and processor runtime. The datetime modules provides classes and functions which provide an interface to work with date, time, and combined values. The calendar module allows us to create formatted representation of weeks, months, and years.


Following are some of the functions from time module:


Function Description
time( ) Returns the number of seconds since the start of the epoch as a floating-point value.
ctime( ) Displays the date and time in a human readable format.
clock( ) Returns the processor’s clock time as a float.



Following are some of the functions from datetime module:


Function Description
today( ) This function which belongs to date class returns date of current day.
replace( ) Used to change the day, month, or a year in a date.
now( ) Returns current day date and time.
strftime(format) Displays the date and time based on the given format.



Data Compression


To save the storage area in the hard disk we can compress the existing files. Python’s standard library provides various modules to work with various popular compression libraries.


Python’s zlib and gzip modules provides an interface to the GNU zip library. The module bz2 supports the recent bzip2 format. We can use these modules for reading and writing compressed files.


The zlib module provides a low-level interface to many of the functions in the zlib compression library from the GNU project. For working with zlib, the data that need to be compressed or decompressed needs to be in the memory. The zlib module contains a function compress( ) to compress the data and another function decompress( ) to decompress the data. Following is an example which demonstrates compressing and decompressing data using the zlib module:





Threading allows several parts of a program to run in parallel (concurrently). This allows the program to execute faster and to keep the CPU busy. The threading module of Python’s standard library allows us to easily manage several threads of execution. This module builds on the low-level features provided by thread.


The simplest way to create a thread is to create an object for the Thread class with a target function and call the start() function to start the execution of the thread. Following program demonstrates creating and executing a thread:



We can pass information to a thread as arguments. Any type of object can be passed as an argument to the thread. Following example demonstrates passing arguments to the function:



Turtle Graphics


Turtle graphics is a popular way to introduce programming. It was part of the original Logo programming language. Python’s standard library provides the turtle module to access the graphics package. To use the turtle module, write the following:



Now, we can use the functions available in the turtle module. For example, we can move the turtle forward by 200 steps by using the function forward( ) as follows:



Following are some of the functions available in turtle module:


Function Description
forward(distance) Moves the turtle forward by specified distance
backward(distance) Moves the turtle backward by specified distance
right(angle) Turn the turtle right by specified angle
left(angle) Turn the turtle left by specified angle
setpos(x, y) Set the position of turtle based on the given x and y co-ordinates
setx(x) Set the x coordinate of turtle
sety(y) Set the y coordinate of turtle
home( ) Move the turtle to the origin (0, 0)
circle(radius) Draw circle with the given radius



Some interesting programs can be written to generate graphics using the turtle graphics module. Following is one such program to draw circle pattern with different colors:



Output of the above program is as follows:




GUI Programming


Python provides tkinter module for GUI programming. The type of programming in which a user can see an interface containing different widgets (controls) and interact with them using mouse is known as GUI programming.


The tkinter module is an interface to the popular Tk GUI toolkit which was developed as an extension to the Tcl scripting language. Tkinter is an acronym for Tk interface. Tk toolkit provides the following widgets:


  • button
  • canvas
  • checkbutton
  • combobox
  • entry
  • frame
  • label
  • labelframe
  • listbox
  • menu
  • menubutton
  • message
  • notebook
  • tk_optionMenu
  • panedwindow
  • progressbar
  • radiobutton
  • scale
  • scrollbar
  • separator
  • sizegrip
  • spinbox
  • text
  • treeview


It provides the following top-level windows:


  • tk_chooseColor – pops up a dialog box for the user to select a color.
  • tk_chooseDirectory – pops up a dialog box for the user to select a directory.
  • tk_dialog – creates a modal dialog and waits for a response.
  • tk_getOpenFile – pops up a dialog box for the user to select a file to open.
  • tk_getSaveFile – pops up a dialog box for the user to select a file to save.
  • tk_messageBox – pops up a message window and waits for a user response.
  • tk_popup – posts a popup menu.
  • toplevel – creates and manipulates toplevel widgets.


Tk also provides three geometry managers:


  • place – which positions widgets at absolute locations
  • grid – which arranges widgets in a grid
  • pack – which packs widgets into a cavity


Following is a simple program to create a window using tkinter module:



The output of the above code is a window as follows:




Related Links:

Popular Posts:


You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

Nice clear article and a handy reference. I’ve linked to it in this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll Up