lambda in Python: is it returning multiple values?

To begin with let’s just have look at the old school of lambda in Python.

As we know, lambda x: return x**2 is exactly equivalent to

def squared(x): return x**2

Now look at this

>>> f1 = lambda x,y,z: x+1, y+1, z+1
>>> print(f1(1,1,1))

What will you get on the screen? A tuple of (2, 2, 2)? No. You get an error instead.

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<pyshell#7>", line 1, in 
    print(f1(1,1,1))
TypeError: 'tuple' object is not callable

Now that the “returning part” of lambda is covering the contents before comma only, let’s explicitly add the brackets:

>>> f1 = lambda x,y,z: (x+1, y+1, z+1)
>>> print(f1(1,1,1))
(2, 2, 2)

Things begin to become clearer now, but what is the ‘tuple’ in the wrong example? It’s f1. Have a look at this:

>>> y = 10
>>> z = 20
>>> f1 = lambda x,y,z: x+1, y+1, z+1
>>> type(f1)<class 'tuple'>>>> print(f1)(<function <lambda> at 0x7feb222116a8>, 11, 21)

This time the lambda becomes something like def _func(x, y, z): return x+1 – only returns one value and now takes useless y and z as its arguments. You can confirm by:

>>> print(f1[0](2,-10,-20))
3

All done!

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