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The Python Map() function, loved for its efficiency and ease of use. Functions are a tool that all programmers use in their everyday life, and they’re an integral part of every programming language ever. It doesn’t matter what language you are into; functions are a fundamental concept every developer learns on their journey.

Now, the Map() function, a feature also included in other popular languages such as JavaScript, is a great tool that will save you hundreds of headaches and allow you to increase the efficiency of your code. 

In this article, we’ll show you how to approach this tool and all its features so you can exploit it on your own projects. Let’s jump right in!

What is the Map() Function?

Map() is a function already included in Python as a native tool, meaning you can use it immediately. Once you call it, Map() processes the data you send and transforms it into an iterable. This process, known as mapping, allows you to apply a transformation to each iterable item and return the result. This is one advantage of functional programming that Python exhibits and part of the reason for its incredible and rising popularity.

In short, functional programming is a paradigm that implies heavy use of functions and the evaluation of the returned data to get the desired outcome in a modular and connected way. It’s really a huge topic, so that’s as deep as we’ll get into that, at least in this article. Learning the Map() function and other fundamentals in Python will get you one step closer to complex coding, even if you are not doing pure functional programming. 

So, let’s see what this all means in practice.

Calling Map()

If we want to use Map(), we need to call it first. Then, we give it the function in which the data will get processed and the list of items called iterable. The operation then returns a map object that we can store in a variable.

map(function, iterable)

We can use one or more iterables in the Map() function, and all of them will be looped and transformed.

In Python, we can construct functions using the def keyword. Let’s define a function that sums each number and returns it doubled.

Python map() function uses def
This function sums each number, then returns that number, doubled.


Now, let’s take the same approach to create a new list with the cubes of each number.

The Python Map() function
Return a list of numbers, cubed.


Using Map() with Lambda Expressions in Python

In Python, Lambda expressions allow us to define a function in the same line as map(), instead of writing it in a separate section. For example:

The Python Map() function with lambda
This also prints a list of numbers, cubed.


As you can see, we get the same result, but without writing too much code and with a cleaner syntax.

Using Map() With Built-in Functions in Python

Luckily for us, Python includes many built-in functions that will facilitate the construction of any project. Let’s see an example of one of those functions working with map().

The Python Map() function with len
Print out the number of characters in each list item.


As you can see in the example above, we used the len built-in function to count the characters in each word of the list. Then, we return the result and save it in a new list.

What Are the Advantages of the Map() Function?

We’ve already seen some features of map() when working with data and operations that require processing. For sure, a fundamental tool in your journey as a programmer that will find its way into many projects. Let’s get into some of its core advantages.

In programming, the “for” loop is a built-in and commonly used tool with applications similar to the map() function, although we won’t get into that. The thing is, the for loop can be more complex to write, and this usually leads to more errors in the code. So, the map() function improves our logic, giving us a shorter and more efficient way to achieve the same result. The map() function then appears as an alternative to the “for” loop. But what is the difference between the two? One of the many differences is that the implementation of functions and built-in functions is adaptable in the map() function syntax. 

Some other tools you can combine with map() are if statements, the Math library, and the dictionary collection. This approach provides a way to create complex ideas in a simplified manner. For example, let’s see what happens when an if statement combines with the map() function:

The Python Map() function with if
This code returns a list of numbers that has had all the even numbers in the list doubled.


In this operation, the if statement allows us to separate between odd and even numbers. In each case, the process applied is different, and the results returned are affected. So, this approach to writing code will save tons of your time and is a great way to reduce mistakes when building complex applications in the development environment.

Common Bugs and Errors

Operating with map() will give you all the advantages listed above. But, it’s worth mentioning that debugging long, complex code is the bane of most programmers. So you had better be careful when your code starts to grow, especially if you have many functions linked with each other.

Even if the map() function can be combined with other statements and functions, you shouldn’t overdo this so much that the complexity of the code makes it inefficient.  

When the returns of a function are more extensive than expected, errors can appear in the processing of your code. Therefore, take special care of the typical infinite loop. This error could be present in the chosen function that transforms the iterables, and appears when a defined condition always evaluates to true. For example, you might have a loop that outputs numbers and doesn’t stop until it reaches 0. This is an error of recursion: the output of the code is activating the code again, and again, and again. 

Another common mistake when working with map() is defining None as a function. Let’s see what could happen in that case:

The Python Map() function error
What happens when you define None as a function wile using Map().


Here’s the transcribed text of the error message for you:

Traceback (most recent call last):

  File “/Users/Documents/Python/python_example.py”, line 3, in

    for x in map_iterator:

TypeError: ‘NoneType’ object is not callable

So, always watch out for these errors and fix them before they pile up!

Conclusion: The Python Map() Function Explained

So, after all this, you should be well-equipped to write some excellent code! Learning Map() is an incredible improvement for any programmer, and the possibilities for developing ideas with it are endless.

We’ve gone over how Map() is a tool that takes an iterable and transforms it over a loop with the function of your choice. It can work with functions you made yourself as well as built-in functions, lambda functions, and methods.

Map() is built in C, so the alternative logic inside this function gives us optimized performance. Compared to the classic – but more resource-demanding for loop – map() will save memory when computing and processing data.

Since you have your functions separated from the logic of Map(), you can run and debug each function by itself, and all the bugs and errors should be easy to fix once you identify the line causing your code to malfunction. In addition, check the official documentation for details, methods of debugging, and further explanation of Python concepts.

Good luck on your programming journey!

The Python Map() Function Explained: With Examples FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

When was Python released?

Guido van Rossum created and released Python in 1991 as a successor to the ABC programming language. Python 2.0 first appeared in 2000. The current version, Python 2.7.18, was released in 2020.

Is Python a popular programming language?

Along with C, Java, and many others, Python stays consistently as one of the most popular programming languages in the industry. This is because it is simple to learn, incredibly efficient for many applications, and excellent for data analysis, a growing field in tech. 

What is the difference between a for loop and the Map() function?

Both tools can get you to the same result, but the map() function has the advantage of a simplified syntax and a better memory performance.

What is functional programming?

Functional programming is a computation paradigm that builds its core around functions as its principal construction method. Functions and other values link to each other in a modular approach instead of a linear and sequenced code structure.

Can I combine map() with other functions?

Yes, for sure! You can use map() nested and combined with other functions such as filter(), reduce(), and many more to get complex but efficient results.

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More from History-Computer

  • Python Docs Available here: https://docs.python.org/3/library/functions.html#map
  • GeeksForGeeks Available here: https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/python-map-function/
  • Real Python Available here: https://realpython.com/python-map-function/#:~:text=Python's%20map()%20is%20a,them%20into%20a%20new%20iterable.
  • FreeCodeCamp Available here: https://www.freecodecamp.org/news/python-map-explained-with-examples/
  • DigitalOcean Available here: https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/python-map-function