max() Function in Python

max() Function in Python

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Updated on Apr 13, 2023 15:25 IST

This article includes introduction to max() Function in Python and Examples of Using the max() Function in Python.

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The max() function is an in-built technique to determine the largest value within a list. Alternatively, when given a list of strings, it returns the string with the greatest lexicographic value.

In this article, we will discuss the max() function and understand its use with the help of examples. We will be covering the following sections:

Introduction max() Function in Python

Python’s max() function is a built-in function that returns the highest or largest element in an iterable or given input. 

The function can take one or more arguments, including a list, tuple, set, or individual values. The returned value is the maximum element in the input. If the input includes elements of different data types, the function will raise a TypeError. Additionally, if the input is empty and a default value is not provided, the function will raise a ValueError

Syntax of max()

The syntax of the max() function in Python is given as follows:

 
max(iterable, *iterables[, key, default])
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Parameters of max()

Here,

·     iterable: This is the required iterable or sequence, such as a list, tuple, set, or string, from which the minimum value is to be retrieved.

·     *iterables: This optional parameter allows multiple iterables to be passed as arguments.

·     key: This parameter is optional and takes a function as its argument. This function is used to customize the comparison between elements of the iterable.

·     default: This parameter is also optional and is used to specify a default value if the iterable is empty.

Return Value of max()

If the max() function is used without an iterable, it will return the highest object among the parameters that are passed to it. On the other hand, if the max() function is used with an iterable, it will return the most significant element in the iterable.

Exceptions of max()

Two types of exceptions can occur when using the max() function in Python:

  • If the iterable is empty and no default value is provided in the parameter, the max() function will raise a ValueError.
  • If the parameter includes values of different data types, the max() function will raise a TypeError.
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Examples of Using the max() Function in Python

Example 1: Using max() with Python list

 
numbers = [2, 5, 3, 7, 1]
maximum_number = max(numbers)
print(maximum_number)
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Output:

7

Explanation: In this example, a list of numbers is created and assigned to the variable numbers. The max() function is then used to find the highest number in the list, which is assigned to the variable maximum_number. Finally, the highest number is printed on the console.

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Example 2: Using max() with Python Tuple

 
values = (3.5, 2.8, 4.2, 1.6, 5.1)
max_value = max(values)
print(max_value)
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Output:

5.1

In this example, we have a tuple of floating-point numbers called values. We pass this tuple as an argument to the max() function, which returns the largest value in the tuple, i.e., 5.1. We store this value in the max_value variable and print it.

Example 3: Using max() with a Custom Key Function

 
students = [("Alice", 20), ("Bob", 18), ("Charlie", 21)]
oldest_student = max(students, key=lambda x: x[1])
print(oldest_student[0])
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Output:

Charlie

In this example, a list of tuples containing students’ names and ages is created and assigned to the variable students. The max() function is then used to find the tuple with the highest age by specifying a custom key function that returns the second item in each tuple (the age). The tuple with the highest age is assigned to the variable oldest_student, and the name of the oldest student is printed on the console.

Example 4: Using max() with a Default Value

 
empty_list = []
default_value = "No values found"
max_value = max(empty_list, default=default_value)
print(max_value)
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Output:

No values found

In this example, an empty list is created and assigned to the variable empty_list. The max() function is then used to find the highest value in the list, but since the list is empty, the default value of “No values found” is returned instead. Finally, the default value is printed on the console.

Example 5: Using max() with mixed data types

 
mixed_list = ["a", 2, "c", 4.5, True]
max_value = max(mixed_list)
print(max_value)
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Output:

TypeError: ‘>’ not supported between instances of ‘int’ and ‘str’

In this example, a list containing values of different data types is created and assigned to the variable mixed_list. The max() function is then used to find the highest value in the list, but since the list contains values of different data types (int, str, float, bool), a TypeError is raised because comparison is not supported between these data types.

Endnotes

In conclusion, the max() function is often used in data analysis, mathematics, and programming to retrieve the highest value in a data set.

This article was helpful for you in understanding how and why the max() method is used in Python. You can explore related articles here if you wish to learn more about Python and practice Python programming.

Contributed by Prerna Singh

FAQs

What happens if multiple maximum values are in a list?

If there are multiple maximum values in a list, the max() function will return the first maximum value it encounters.

How does the max() function handle negative numbers?

The max() function handles negative numbers in the same way as positive numbers. It returns the largest value, regardless of whether it is positive or negative.

Can the max() function be used with non-numeric values?

Yes, the max() function can be used with non-numeric values, such as strings or tuples. When used with non-numeric values, the max() function returns the value that would last if the values were sorted alphabetically.

What happens if I use the max() function with an empty list?

If you use the max() function with an empty list and do not provide a default value, a ValueError will be raised.

Can I use the max() function with custom key functions?

Yes, the max() function can be used with custom key functions to define how the elements in the iterable are compared. The key function should take one argument and return a value that will be used to determine the order of the elements.

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