A string is a sequence of characters. In Python, strings are ordered sequences of character data, and thus can be indexed in this language. Python does not support a character type, but these are treated as strings of length one, also considered as a substring.
A common question in most programming interviews is about reversing a string in Python. Unlike C++, Java, or other languages, Python provides in-built functions and easy-to-use methods to perform this, allowing developers to perform this task in several ways.
In this article, we’ll go over a few of the most common techniques for reversing a string in Python. Let’s start with the simplest and most direct method using slicing.
Reversing a String using Slicing
In Python, slicing syntax can be used as a substitute for the `reverse()` function. Here is an example:
In this case, the `[::-1]` slice is a quick and easy way to reverse a string. The syntax of slices is `start:stop:step`, and when they are not provided Python uses default values start=0, stop=len(array), and step=1. So, `[::-1]` means the entire array, but with a step of -1, which in essence reverses the string.
Reversing a String using Loop
Another common way to reverse a string in Python is by using a loop that follows these steps:
- Create an empty string
- Traverse the input string from the end to the start
- For each character, add it to the new string
Here is an example:
In this case, the loop goes through each character in the original string, and adds it to the start of the `reversed_s`, thereby reversing the string.
Reversing a String using join() and reversed()
Python also provides the built-in `reversed()` function that can reverse an object that has a defined `__reversed__()` method. Unfortunately, strings don’t have this method, but `reversed()` can still be used with strings when combined with the `join()` method, like so:
In this case, reversed(s) returns a reverse iterator object, which we then immediately convert back into a string with the join() method. The join() method combines a list of strings into a single string, so in essence we’re creating a new string from the reversed old string.
Reversing a String using a Stack
Python’s list data type provides a method to add an element at the end of the list and to remove an element at the end of the list, i.e., it serves as a stack. We can use this property of a list to reverse a string as follows:
In this case, we first convert the string into a list and then use the pop() method to remove elements from the end of the list and append them to the result string, effectively reversing the string.
As we’ve seen, Python provides multiple ways to reverse a string, each with its own advantages. Slicing is by far the simplest and most direct method, but understanding how to reverse a string with a loop or a stack can give you deeper insights into how strings and loops work in Python. Using the built-in reversed() function can also be handy, especially when dealing with more complex iterable data structures.