How does functools partial do what it does?

Roughly, partial does something like this (apart from keyword args support etc):

def partial(func, *part_args):
    def wrapper(*extra_args):
        args = list(part_args)
        return func(*args)

    return wrapper

So, by calling partial(sum2, 4) you create a new function (a callable, to be precise) that behaves like sum2, but has one positional argument less. That missing argument is always substituted by 4, so that partial(sum2, 4)(2) == sum2(4, 2)

As for why it’s needed, there’s a variety of cases. Just for one, suppose you have to pass a function somewhere where it’s expected to have 2 arguments:

class EventNotifier(object):
    def __init__(self):
        self._listeners = []

    def add_listener(self, callback):
        ''' callback should accept two positional arguments, event and params '''
        # ...

    def notify(self, event, *params):
        for f in self._listeners:
            f(event, params)

But a function you already have needs access to some third context object to do its job:

def log_event(context, event, params):
    context.log_event("Something happened %s, %s", event, params)

So, there are several solutions:

A custom object:

class Listener(object):
   def __init__(self, context):
       self._context = context

   def __call__(self, event, params):
       self._context.log_event("Something happened %s, %s", event, params)



log_listener = lambda event, params: log_event(context, event, params)

With partials:

context = get_context()  # whatever
notifier.add_listener(partial(log_event, context))

Of those three, partial is the shortest and the fastest. (For a more complex case you might want a custom object though).

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