OverviewTeaching: 10 min
Exercises: 0 minQuestions
How do I handle unusual behavior while the code runs?Objectives
Understand that exceptions are effectively specialized runtime tests
Learn when to use exceptions and what exceptions are available
Exceptions are more sophisticated than assertions. They are the standard error messaging system in most modern programming languages. Fundamentally, when an error is encountered, an informative exception is ‘thrown’ or ‘raised’.
For example, instead of the assertion in the case before, an exception can be used.
def mean(num_list): if len(num_list) == 0: raise Exception("The algebraic mean of an empty list is undefined. " "Please provide a list of numbers") else: return sum(num_list)/len(num_list)
Once an exception is raised, it will be passed upward in the program scope. An exception be used to trigger additional error messages or an alternative behavior. rather than immediately halting code execution, the exception can be ‘caught’ upstream with a try-except block. When wrapped in a try-except block, the exception can be intercepted before it reaches global scope and halts execution.
To add information or replace the message before it is passed upstream, the try-catch block can be used to catch-and-reraise the exception:
def mean(num_list): try: return sum(num_list)/len(num_list) except ZeroDivisionError as detail : msg = "The algebraic mean of an empty list is undefined. Please provide a list of numbers." raise ZeroDivisionError(detail.__str__() + "\n" + msg)
Alternatively, the exception can simply be handled intelligently. If an alternative behavior is preferred, the exception can be disregarded and a responsive behavior can be implemented like so:
def mean(num_list): try: return sum(num_list)/len(num_list) except ZeroDivisionError : return 0
If a single function might raise more than one type of exception, each can be caught and handled separately.
def mean(num_list): try: return sum(num_list)/len(num_list) except ZeroDivisionError : return 0 except TypeError as detail : msg = "The algebraic mean of an non-numerical list is undefined.\ Please provide a list of numbers." raise TypeError(detail.__str__() + "\n" + msg)
What else could go wrong?
- Think of some other type of exception that could be raised by the try block.
- Guard against it by adding an except clause.
- Use the mean function in three different ways, so that you cause each exceptional case.
Exceptions have the advantage of being simple to include and powerfully helpful to the user. However, not all behaviors can or should be found with runtime exceptions. Most behaviors should be validated with unit tests.
Exceptions are effectively specialized runtime tests
Exceptions can be caught and handled with a try-except block
Many built-in Exception types are available