A document from MCS 275 Spring 2022, instructor David Dumas. You can also get the notebook file.

MCS 275 Spring 2022 Worksheet 4

  • Course instructor: David Dumas


This worksheet focuses on variadic functions, argument unpacking, and decorators.


These things might be helpful while working on the problems. Remember that for worksheets, we don't strictly limit what resources you can consult, so these are only suggestions.

Please consider working on this in a notebook

We recently learned about the Python notebook interface. You aren't required to use it in MCS 275, but I think it would be a good idea to use this week's lab to try it out, i.e. either

  1. Work on this assignment in Google Colab (Google account required; you can log in with your netid@uic.edu account, for example)
  2. Install Jupyter notebook on your computer and work on the assignment that way. The recommended steps are:
    1. In a terminal, run python3 -m pip install notebook (or adjust for another interpreter name if needed, e.g. python instead of python3)
    2. Then, in the directory where you want to work, run python3 -m notebook and a browser window should open. You can click "New" in the upper right to make a new notebook.
    3. When you're done working and have saved your notebook, go back to the terminal and press control-C to stop Jupyter.

1. Most bits set

Here is a function that takes an integer and determines how many of the bits in its binary expansion are equal to 1 (such a bit is also called "set"). There are other ways to do this; the one shown below was chosen for its code simplicity.

In [4]:
def bits_set(n):
    """Return the number of 1 bits when `n` is represented in binary"""
    return bin(n).count("1")

# Example: bits_set(9) returns 2 because 9 = 0b1001 which has two bits set to 1.
# We haven't covered the function bin() in class, but you can check the help to see what it does!

Write a function most_bits_set(...) that accepts any number of integers as positional arguments. The function should determine which of the arguments have the most bits equal to 1. Among arguments that have this maximum number of bits equal to 1, the function should return the one that appears earliest in the argument list.

In creating this function, you are encouraged to use the function bits_set given above.

Examples of the expected behavior of most_bits_set:

In [3]:
In [9]:
# 9 is the only one with 2 bits set, so it is returned
In [12]:
# 7,14,13 all have 3 bits set, which is the maximum seen here
# (9 has only 2 bits set, and 2 has only 1 bit set)
# Therefore 7 is returned

2. kwarg name with longest value

Write a function kwarg_name_with_longest_value(...) which accepts any number of keyword arguments (a.k.a. kwargs). Every value passed as a keyword argument is expected to be a sequence, such as a string, list, or tuple. Note that sequences allow computation of length using len(). The function should determine which argument has the maximum length, and return the name of that argument. If several keyword arguments share the maximum length, it is acceptable to return any one of their names.


In [17]:
In [18]:
# It is acceptable for this to return 'a' or 'b'

3. Prepared print

Write a function prepared_print that accepts any number of arguments and keyword arguments. This function should return a function that takes no arguments, but which will call print() with the supplied arguments when called. That is, prepared_print gets a print statement ready but doesn't call it. Here's an example of its use:

In [8]:
f = prepared_print("hello","mcs",260,"students",sep="_") # Get "ready" to call print("hello",...)
g = prepared_print("goodbye")
In [9]:
f() # call the print function we've prepared
In [10]:


You'll want to define a function inside prepared_print and return it.

4. Timing decorator

Here is a short program that computes the squares of the integers 1...1_000_000 and then prints how long the calculation took.

In [47]:
import time

t_start = time.time() # Time since 0:00 Jan 1 1970 UTC, in seconds
million_squares = [ (x+1)**2 for x in range(1_000_000) ]
t_end = time.time()
print("Running time: {:.4f} seconds".format(t_end - t_start))
Running time: 0.2264 seconds

Using the code above as a reference, write a decorator called timing that, when applied to a function, makes every call to that function print how long it took for the function to complete. The function's return value, if any, should still be returned. And the decorator should work with functions that take arguments.

Examples of how this should work:

In [49]:
def squares_of_first(n):
    """Return a list of the squares of 1, 2, ...,n"""
    return [ (x+1)**2 for x in range(n) ]

def print_greeting(name="friend",salutation="Hello"):
    """Print a customizable greeting"""
    print("{}, {}.  It is nice to see you.".format(salutation,name))
In [50]:
Running time: 0.0000 seconds
[1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, 64, 81, 100]
In [51]:
# Let's make a much bigger list so the running time is nonzero
x=squares_of_first(100_000) # assign so the value is not printed!
Running time: 0.0493 seconds
In [53]:
Howdy, Anushka.  It is nice to see you.
Running time: 0.0001 seconds
In [54]:
Greetings, friend.  It is nice to see you.
Running time: 0.0003 seconds


As a first step, I suggest you make a decorator that would work with functions that take no arguments and have no return value, i.e. one which would work in this case:

In [ ]:
import time

def I_have_no_args():
    print("Doing something for 2 seconds")

Then, refine the decorator so it can handle arguments and return values.

5. One argument limit decorator

Write a decorator unary that ensures a function only ever receives one positional argument, and never receives any keyword arguments. Any extra arguments (positional arguments after the first, or any keyword arguments at all) should simply be ignored. If no arguments are given, then the decorator is allowed to do anything (e.g. raise an exception).

In [56]:
def show(x):
    """Display a single value"""

def square(x):
    """Return the square of x"""
    return x*x
In [57]:
Value: 50
In [58]:
show("Hello everyone")
Value: Hello everyone
In [59]:
Value: 3
In [60]:
Value: 5
In [63]:
In [61]: