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Python eval: How to Use eval() Function in Python

Python eval() method runs the python code, which is passed as an argument within the program. The eval() method returns the result evaluated from the expression.

Python eval()

Python eval() is an inbuilt function that parses the expression passed to that function and runs python expression(code) within the program.


The syntax of the eval() method is the following.

eval(expression, globals=None, locals=None)


  1. expression – this string is parsed and evaluated as Python expression.
  2. globals (optional) – a dictionary.
  3. locals (optional)- a mapping object. Dictionary is the standard and commonly used mapping type in Python.

See the following example of the eval() function in Python.


k = 21
print(eval('k + 1'))

So, in the above code, k + 1 evaluates as a 21 + 1 and we get an output 22.

Python Eval Function Tutorial

So, the eval function takes an expression and executes that expression and gives the output.

Let’s take a real-time example of the eval function.


def square(l):
  return l*l

def cube(l):
  return l*l*l

param = input('Type a function: ')

for l in range(1, 5):
    if (param == 'square(l)'):
        print('The square of l is:', eval(param))
    elif (param == 'cube(l)'):
	    print('The cube of l is:', eval(param))
        print('You have entered the wrong function')

The above code has two choices of functions.

  1. Square
  2. Cube

If the user types the square(l), then it will return the squares of the values in for loop and if cube it will create the cubes of each value from 1 to 5.

See the below output.

Python Eval Function Tutorial With Example

If you are using an eval(input()) in your code, it’s an excellent idea to check which variables and methods a user can use. You can see which variables and functions are available using the Python dir() function.

More often than not, all the available functions and variables used in the expression (the first parameter to the eval()) may not be needed, or even may have the security loophole.

You may need to restrict the use of these methods and variables for the eval() method. You can do so by passing optional globals and locals parameters (dictionaries) to the eval() function.

If both parameters are omitted (as in our earlier examples), the expression is executed in the current scope. You can check the available variables and methods using the following code.


Passing globals parameter; locals parameter is omitted

The globals and locals parameters (dictionaries) are used for global and local variables respectively.

If the locals dictionary is omitted, it defaults to the globals dictionary. Meaning, globals will be used for both global and local variables. See the following example.

from math import *
print(eval('dir()', {}))

See the output.

Passing globals parameter; locals parameter is omitted

If you pass the empty dictionary as globals, only the __builtins__ are available to expression (first parameter to the eval()). Even though we have imported the math module in an above program, expression can’t access any of the functions provided by the math module.

Making Certain Methods available

Write the following code inside the file in order to make certain methods available to the user.

from math import *
print(eval('dir()', {'sqrt': sqrt, 'pow': pow}))

See the below output.

Making Certain Methods available

Here, the expression can also use the sqrt() and pow() methods along with __builtins__.

Also, it’s possible to change the name of the method available for the expression according to your wish.

Passing both globals and locals dictionary

You can make needed functions and variables available for the use of bypassing the locals dictionary. See the following example.


from math import *

k = 4
print(eval('sqrt(k)', {'__builtins__': None}, {'k': k, 'sqrt': sqrt}))

See the output.

Passing both globals and locals dictionary

Finally, Python Eval Function Example is over.

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