You Tipple Wine, But What Do You Tuple? 

On the meaning and usage of tuples in Python

I dig the word “tuple”. It sounds like a word you should know but can’t quite place. It makes me think about tipple, as in tippling wine at the gallery opening. That, in turn, reminds me of the Monty Python sketch called “Stock Exchange Report,” in which a reporter broadcasts, “Ting tang tong rankled dithely, little tipples pooped and poppy things went pong!”

Great, right? That, in turn, reminds of Lewis Carroll: “Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe.”

But I digress. Back to tuples, a word that sounds like nonsense but is actually a mathematics term meaning an ordered grouping. One of the reasons it sounds familiar even to non-mathematicians is because it makes its way into the language in other ways, such as quintuple, sextuple, and octuple. So, when you think about some poor woman bearing quintuplets, think of them as a pretty darn long grouping of darling babies.

In Python world, a tuple is also like a grouping, consisting of a number of values separated by commas and contained inside parentheses.  Here’s an example of a tuple:

pokerFriends = ("Joe", "Shiho", "Jose")

Go ahead and type that into your IDLE shell and hit enter. Now, If you type the word “pokerFriends” into the Shell, it should spit out the tuple:

('Joe', 'Shiho', 'Jose')

So, now you have a tuple (which is a grouping, of course) that is called pokerFriends. The names, which are separated by commas, are the values. We could (and will) go deeper into these matters, but let’s quit for now. Just remember that you tipple wine and tuple values.

PS – If you’re the instant gratification type and want more info on tuples right now, you can try tutorialspoint or How to Think Like a Computer Scientist.

Featured image:  Dionne quintuplets, 1937, unknown author: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The-dionne-quintuplets_1937.jpg

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Mark R. Vickers

I am a writer, analyst, futurist and researcher. I've spent most of my working life as an editor and manager for research organizations focusing on social, business, technology, HR and management trends. But, perhaps more to the point for this blog, I'm curious about the universe and the myriad, often mysterious relationships therein.

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