Python switch statement: match and case

Einblick Content Team - December 27th, 2022

Prior to Python 3.10, only if-else statements were available. But Python 3.10 introduced the match and case statements, which provide the same functionality and similar syntax to traditional switch statements.

In the following example, we create a day_of_week() function to demonstrate the use of the match and case statements, Python's equivalent to the switch statement.

You can check out the full code on this Einblick canvas:

Comparing the syntax using the match and case statements, with the equivalent if-else statements, we can see that the match and case statements are a bit more concise, with less repetitive syntax.

Example using if-else

The function takes in a day as a number. Based on the value of the number, the function will return a particular string.

def day_of_week_elif(day):
    if day == 0:
        return "Sunday"
    elif day == 1:
        return "Monday"
    elif day == 2:
        return "Tuesday"
    elif day == 3:
        return "Wednesday"
    elif day == 4:
        return "Thursday"
    elif day == 5:
        return "Friday"
    elif day == 6:
        return "Saturday"
        return "Something's wrong"

Example using match & case

Note the similarities of the Python syntax with C syntax. Note the wildcard in the last case. The _ wildcard will match for any other case, not enumerated in the prior cases.

def day_of_week(day):
    match day:
        case 0:
            return "Sunday"
        case 1:
            return "Monday"
        case 2:
            return "Tuesday"
        case 3:
            return "Wednesday"
        case 4:
            return "Thursday"
        case 5:
            return "Friday"
        case 6:
            return "Saturday"
        case _: # wildcard will always match
            return "Something's wrong"

In the official documentation of the Python 3.10 release, Python highlighted other ways to use the match statement, such as matching on a literal and a variable, using classes, and nested patterns.

Notes on switch statements

A switch statement is a control flow statement used to execute different code blocks based on different conditions. This may sound very similar to if-else statements, which are core to control flow. Typically, switch statements work by taking an expression and matching it with a particular case. If a match is found, the associated block of code is executed.

There are some benefits of using switch statements. First, they can make code easier to read than a series of if-else statements if the situation calls for it. Switch statements can also be more concise than if-else statements. There are many languages, such as C/C++, Java, and Javascript that use switch statements.


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