How do I do a case-insensitive string comparison? How do I do a case-insensitive string comparison? python python

How do I do a case-insensitive string comparison?

Assuming ASCII strings:

string1 = 'Hello'string2 = 'hello'if string1.lower() == string2.lower():    print("The strings are the same (case insensitive)")else:    print("The strings are NOT the same (case insensitive)")

Comparing strings in a case insensitive way seems trivial, but it's not. I will be using Python 3, since Python 2 is underdeveloped here.

The first thing to note is that case-removing conversions in Unicode aren't trivial. There is text for which text.lower() != text.upper().lower(), such as "ß":

"ß".lower()#>>> 'ß'"ß".upper().lower()#>>> 'ss'

But let's say you wanted to caselessly compare "BUSSE" and "Buße". Heck, you probably also want to compare "BUSSE" and "BUẞE" equal - that's the newer capital form. The recommended way is to use casefold:


Return a casefolded copy of the string. Casefolded strings may be used for caseless matching.

Casefolding is similar to lowercasing but more aggressive because it is intended to remove all case distinctions in a string. [...]

Do not just use lower. If casefold is not available, doing .upper().lower() helps (but only somewhat).

Then you should consider accents. If your font renderer is good, you probably think "ê" == "ê" - but it doesn't:

"ê" == "ê"#>>> False

This is because the accent on the latter is a combining character.

import unicodedata[ for char in "ê"]#>>> ['LATIN SMALL LETTER E WITH CIRCUMFLEX'][ for char in "ê"]#>>> ['LATIN SMALL LETTER E', 'COMBINING CIRCUMFLEX ACCENT']

The simplest way to deal with this is unicodedata.normalize. You probably want to use NFKD normalization, but feel free to check the documentation. Then one does

unicodedata.normalize("NFKD", "ê") == unicodedata.normalize("NFKD", "ê")#>>> True

To finish up, here this is expressed in functions:

import unicodedatadef normalize_caseless(text):    return unicodedata.normalize("NFKD", text.casefold())def caseless_equal(left, right):    return normalize_caseless(left) == normalize_caseless(right)

Using Python 2, calling .lower() on each string or Unicode object...

string1.lower() == string2.lower()

...will work most of the time, but indeed doesn't work in the situations @tchrist has described.

Assume we have a file called unicode.txt containing the two strings Σίσυφος and ΣΊΣΥΦΟΣ. With Python 2:

>>> utf8_bytes = open("unicode.txt", 'r').read()>>> print repr(utf8_bytes)'\xce\xa3\xce\xaf\xcf\x83\xcf\x85\xcf\x86\xce\xbf\xcf\x82\n\xce\xa3\xce\x8a\xce\xa3\xce\xa5\xce\xa6\xce\x9f\xce\xa3\n'>>> u = utf8_bytes.decode('utf8')>>> print uΣίσυφοςΣΊΣΥΦΟΣ>>> first, second = u.splitlines()>>> print first.lower()σίσυφος>>> print second.lower()σίσυφοσ>>> first.lower() == second.lower()False>>> first.upper() == second.upper()True

The Σ character has two lowercase forms, ς and σ, and .lower() won't help compare them case-insensitively.

However, as of Python 3, all three forms will resolve to ς, and calling lower() on both strings will work correctly:

>>> s = open('unicode.txt', encoding='utf8').read()>>> print(s)ΣίσυφοςΣΊΣΥΦΟΣ>>> first, second = s.splitlines()>>> print(first.lower())σίσυφος>>> print(second.lower())σίσυφος>>> first.lower() == second.lower()True>>> first.upper() == second.upper()True

So if you care about edge-cases like the three sigmas in Greek, use Python 3.

(For reference, Python 2.7.3 and Python 3.3.0b1 are shown in the interpreter printouts above.)