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Lotto Picker - The Python Way

Using a lotto picker example to demonstrate random numbers and set operations the python way


Picking numbers for a lottery is a simple demonstration of two language features:

  • random number generation
  • producing a unique set

This is a little demonstration of how to do this the python way.

See also:

Random Number Generation

The random standard library provides a pseudo-random number generator (PRNG), currently implemented as a Mersenne Twister with a period of 2**19937-1.

The random.randint(a, b) function return a random integer N such that a <= N <= b.

random.randint(1, 10)
 => 6

Unique Sets

We need to pick a unique set of numbers i.e. no repeats. There are many ways of doing this. Since we are picking from a continuous series, we can simplify things by just ensuring that the results set does is unique i.e. does not contain an repeating elements.

This is perfect use of the set library type. The set class provides collection of unordered values with no duplicates.

my_numbers = set()
 => {}
 => {5}
 => {5}

The Example

See The core routine uses randint for random number generation and set for unique result set

def pick(number_count, upper_limit):
    if number_count > upper_limit:
        raise Exception('Upper limit must be >= the number to pick')


    choices = set()
    while len(choices) < number_count:
        choices.add(random.randint(1, upper_limit))

    return sorted(list(choices))

Using the Example

The script supports a simple command line to pick “n” numbers from 1 to a max number “m”

Call for instructions:

$ ./ ?
Usage: python ./ <number_to_pick> <max>

    python ./ 6 40
    5, 6, 14, 28, 30, 38

Some sample runs:

$ ./ 3 10
1, 6, 7
$ ./ 3 10
1, 8, 10
$ ./ 3 10
1, 4, 9
$ ./ 3 10
1, 5, 7
$ ./ 7 49
8, 16, 20, 29, 43, 46, 49

Running the Tests

Some basic tests are included in

$ ./
Ran 4 tests in 0.035s


Credits and References

About LCK#224 python
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This page is a web-friendly rendering of my project notes shared in the LittleCodingKata GitHub repository.

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