What are Generators?

Learn what generators are and how to create them.

Generators were introduced in Python a long time ago (PEP-255), with the idea of introducing iteration in Python while improving the performance of the program (by using less memory) at the same time.

The idea of a generator is to create an object that is iterable, and, while it's being iterated, will produce the elements it contains, one at a time. The main use of generators is to save memory—instead of having a very large list of elements in memory and holding everything at once, we have an object that knows how to produce each particular element, one at a time, as it is required.

This feature enables lazy computations of heavyweight objects in memory, in a similar manner to what other functional programming languages (Haskell, for instance) provide. It is even be possible to work with infinite sequences because the lazy nature of generators enables such an option.

A first look at generators

Let's start with an example. The problem at hand is that we want to process a large list of records and get some metrics and indicators over them. Given a large dataset with information about purchases, we want to process it in order to get the lowest sale, the highest sale, and the average price of a sale.

For the simplicity of this example, we will assume a CSV with only two fields, in the following format:

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