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Modules (in Python)


Modules provide additional functionality (in the form of readymade variables, functions, and classes) that is not loaded into the Python interpreter by default. So importing a module simply loads these things into the Python interpreter's memory so you can refer to them in your code.

Some modules are included with the standard Python distribution and are "built-in". Others require that you download and install them as "add-ons".

A module by any other name...

While these are called "modules" in Python, sets of useful functions, variables, and classes often go by other names in different programming languages and their cultures:

Some may argue that there are differences in these terms, but they are often used interchangeably in everyday parlance.


Built-in modules come bundled with Python:


Add-on modules are not included with the standard Python distribution, and must be downloaded and installed to be used:

package managers

Adding new add-on modules to Python on a computer can be complicated, time consuming, and thankless. For this reason, package managers - programs that have been designed to provide a simple interface for module installations - are often used. pip is a popular Python package manager.

importing modules

There are two ways to import the functions from a module, for example:

using code in modules

How you refer to the functions within a module from your code depends upon how you imported it:

If you imported in the style, "import random", for example, you would call that module's functions like this:

If you imported in the style, from random import *, for example, you would call that module's functions like this:

Random module

The random module contains lots of functions related to generating pseudo-random numbers, such as:

generating a pseudo-random integer within a defined range

import random
x = random.randint(10, 20) #generates an int between 10 and 20, inclusive

generating pseudo-random numbers

import random

#roll the dice
die1 = int((random.random() * 6) + 1)
die2 = int((random.random() * 6) + 1)

total = die1 + die2

if die1 == 1 and die2 == 1:
    print("Snake eyes!")

print("Your total is: " + str(total))

How to shift the range of a pseudo-random number

This example shows how to take a pseudo-random number from within one range (0 to 0.999 in this example) and shift it to an equivalent number within another range (20 to 99.999 in this example).

#import the random module
import random

#generate a random float betwen 0 and 0.99999
x = random.random()

#shift that number to be in the range between 20 to 99.9999
x = (x * 80) + 20

#print out the number

Specifying the seed used to generate random numbers

The seed is the "kernel" that your computer then applies a series of mechanical operations onto until it turns into a believable-looking pseudo-random number. Two random number generators that are given the same seed will generate the same random numbers. This is the core of many bank security systems.

 import random

 print("Pseudo-random set of numbers based on seed 4")
 print("\nSame pseudo-random set of numbers based on seed 4")
 print("\nDifferent pseudo-random set of numbers based on seed 111")

These methods in the random module allow you to have more flexibility in the type of random numbers you generate.

Using random.randrange(), random.randint(), and random.uniform()

 import random

 #use randrange function
 print("Get a random number between 0-9")
 x = random.randrange(10)

 print("\nGet a random number between 50-100")
 x = random.randrange(50, 101)

 print("\nGet a even random number between 50-100")
 x = random.randrange(50, 101, 2)

 #use the randint function
 print("\n Get a random integer between 1-10")
 x = random.randint(1, 10)

 #use the uniform function
 print("\n Get a random float betweeen 1-10")
 x = random.uniform(1, 11)

 print("\n Get a random float with two decimal places betweeen 1-10 starting from a float with more decimal places")
 x = random.uniform(1, 11)
 x = x * 100 #shift the decimal point over two places to the right
 x = int(x) #slice off the remaining decimal point values
 x = x / 100 #shift the decimal point back two places to the left

Math module

The math module contains lots of useful functions and variables related to algebra and trigonometry, such as:




 import math
 x = 10.2
 y = math.ceil(x) #11
 z = math.floor(x) #10





 #import the math module
 import math

 #call the math module's cos() function
 x = math.cos(90)

 #print out the result
 print("The cosine of 90 is", x)

 #print out the value of pi, which is a variable in the math module
 print("The value of pi is ", math.pi)

Datetime module

The datetime module includes:

Determine the day of the week

 from datetime import *

 def getFriendlyDayFromInt(dayNum):
     #receive the numeric day as input in the variable dayNum
     #figure out what weekday is based on the dayNum
     if dayNum == 0:
         weekday = "Monday"
     elif dayNum == 1:
         weekday = "Tuesday"
     elif dayNum == 2:
         weekday = "Wednesday"
     elif dayNum == 3:
         weekday = "Thursday"
     elif dayNum == 4:
         weekday = "Friday"
     elif dayNum == 5:
         weekday = "Satuday"
     elif dayNum == 6:
         weekday = "Sunday"
         weekday = "" #another way to assign a default value to day
     #send the human-friendly day as output from the function
     return weekday

 def foo():
     today = #get today's date as a "date object"
     weekdayNum = date.weekday(today) #conver the "date object" to a number between 0-6
     friendlyDay = getFriendlyDayFromInt(weekdayNum) #convert that number to a human-friendly day
     print(friendlyDay) #print that day out

 #start up

Parse the day of the week a bit more

 from datetime import *

 def isEarlyInTheWeek(num):
     if num < 2:
         return True
     return False #you don't need an else since this line is only ever executed when the if statement evaluates to false

 def isHumpday(num):
     if num == 2:
         return True
     return False

 def isWeekday(num):
     if num < 5:
         return True
     return False

 def isWeekendDay(num):
     if num >= 5:
         return True
     return False

 d =
 n = date.weekday(d)

 if isWeekday(n):
     print("Today is a weekday!!!")
     if isEarlyInTheWeek(n):
         print("It's still early in the week... don't despair.")
     elif isHumpday(n):
         print("Halfway there...")
         print("The weekend is almost here!")
 elif isWeekendDay(n):
     print("Today is a weekend!!!")

OS module

The os module gives you access to the operating system, including browsing the computer's file system, including all files and folders.

Examples of using the OS module

Import the OS module:

import os

Get the current working directory where the current code file is located:

currentDirectory = os.getcwd()

Get a list of names of files in the current working directory:

listOfFiles = os.listdir(currentDirectory)

Find out if a file exists already:

fileExists = os.path.isfile("somefile.txt")

Get the size of a particular file in bytes:

size = os.stat("somefile.txt").st_size

Get the last modified date of a particular file in bytes:

date = os.stat("somefile.txt").st_mtime

Accessing the computer's file system

 import os

 #get the current working directory (by default the folder where this program is saved)
 myCurrentDirectory = os.getcwd()

 #get a list of the files in the current working directory
 myListOfFiles = os.listdir(myCurrentDirectory)

 #print out that list of files in this folder

 #loop through each filename in the list
 for filename in myListOfFiles:
     #print out each filename

Turtle module

The turtle module is used to teach programming visually. Some teachers like it.

turtle module example geometric drawing program

This program draws a simple geometric shape.

 import turtle

 turtle.color('red', 'yellow')
 while True:
     if abs(turtle.pos()) < 1:

turtle module example spastic turtle program

This program makes the turtle jiggle around uncontrollably.

 import turtle
 import random

 turtle.color('blue', 'green')

 while True:
     #you should really check to make sure the turtle does not go out of bounds... not doing that here...

     #move forward by a random amount
     myNum = random.randint(1,10)

     #turn a random angle
     myAngle = random.randint(0, 360)


CSV module

Python's csv module is useful for reading and writing text files where the data in the file is written in comma-separated values (CSV) format. CSV is the most common text file format for text data from spreadsheets or databases.

See examples of using the csv module to parse CSV files into Lists andDictionaries.

Regular Expressions module

Python, like most other high-level programming languages, provides support for Regular Expressions. The re module is documented separately.

UrlLib.Request module

The urllib.request module allows your programs to include a custom-built text-based web browser by fetching documents from the internet:

Simple example

This example program requests the text of a web page and prints it out to the console.

 #import the urllib request module
 import urllib.request

 #ask the python web server for the home page data
 f = urllib.request.urlopen('')

 #read the response that the web server has sent to us
 pageData =

 #print that data out

Once an HTML document has been retrieved from the web, it can be easily parsed using HTML parser modules, such as Beautiful Soup.

Parser example

This example shows how to do a small amount of manual parsing of an HTML document, looking for links. In most cases, programmers would use any of a number of ready-made popular parsing modules that can do a wide variety of parsing tasks, rather than write this code manually.

Note: I have not tested this example.

 import urllib.request

 response = urllib.request.urlopen("") #make a request to a web server, and store the response

 html = str( #convert the response to a string

 startingPosition = 0
 numberOfLinks = 0
 searchTerm = "http://"

 while startingPosition >= 0:
     startingPosition = html.find(searchTerm, startingPosition + 1)
     numberOfLinks = numberOfLinks + 1

 print("Found", numberOfLinks, "links in this web page")

Creating a web crawling spider

 #example that crawls all NYU i6 accounts and counts how many times  a given word is mentioned

 import urllib.request

 #get a list of all the letters
 letters = "a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z" .split(" ")

 #get a list of all the numbers
 numbers = "0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9".split(" ")

 #generate all possible net ids, assuming net id is 2 letters  followed by 4 numbers
 net_ids = [] #a blank list that will hold all possible net ids

 #nested for loops!
 for l1 in letters:
     for l2 in letters:
         for n1 in numbers:
             for n2 in numbers:
                 for n3 in numbers:
                     for n4 in numbers:
                         net_id = l1 + l2 + n1 + n2 + n3 + n4


 #count how many times the word "awesome" is used on i6 user  home pages
 page_counter = 0
 awesome_counter = 0

 #loop through all net ids and scrape their i6 pages
 for net_id in net_ids:

     #make an http request for the web page of this person
     f = urllib.request.urlopen("" +  net_id)

     #get the html code for this page
     html_code =

     #increment our page counter
     page_counter = page_counter + 1

     #you can now do any kind of analysis on these pages here
     if "awesome" in html_code:
         #increment the awesome counter
         awesome_counter = awesome_counter + 1

         print("Found an awesome on " + net_id + "'s page.")

Beautiful Soup

The add-on module BeautifulSoup is very useful for parsing HTML code. Note that this is not included in Python's standard modules, and so must be downloaded and installed in order to be available.

HTML parser

 #import the module
 from bs4 import BeautifulSoup

 #let's say you have an HTML file you scraped off the web...
 html_doc = """
 <!doctype html>
     <title>Foo Bar</title>
     <script src="js/jquery-1.10.2.min.js"></script>
     <link rel="stylesheet" href="css/main.css" type="text/css"  />
     <div id="wrapper">
         <h1>Redeye to go</h1>
         <p>Viennese beans, wings robust cream frappuccino  single shot.</p>
         <p>Et as, half and half dripper espresso chicory  filter pumpkin spice.</p>

 #...and you want to make some sense of it
 soup = BeautifulSoup(html_doc)

 #... now you can do things like get the contents of HTML  tags...
 print("The title of the document is", soup.title.string)

 #... or find the contents of all paragraphs, for example ...
 for p in soup.find_all('p'):

 #... or get all the text without the HTML code...

 #etc...  check out more: