IPython Documentation

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Module: core.magics.execution

Inheritance diagram for IPython.core.magics.execution:

Implementation of execution-related magic functions.


class IPython.core.magics.execution.ExecutionMagics(shell)

Bases: IPython.core.magic.Magics

Magics related to code execution, debugging, profiling, etc.


Print docstring if incorrect arguments were passed

capture(line, cell)

%capture [–no-stderr] [–no-stdout] [output]

run the cell, capturing stdout/err

positional arguments:
output The name of the variable in which to store output. This is a
utils.io.CapturedIO object with stdout/err attributes for the text of the captured output. CapturedOutput also has a show() method for displaying the output, and __call__ as well, so you can use that to quickly display the output. If unspecified, captured output is discarded.
optional arguments:
--no-stderr Don’t capture stderr.
--no-stdout Don’t capture stdout.

Activate the interactive debugger in post-mortem mode.

If an exception has just occurred, this lets you inspect its stack frames interactively. Note that this will always work only on the last traceback that occurred, so you must call this quickly after an exception that you wish to inspect has fired, because if another one occurs, it clobbers the previous one.

If you want IPython to automatically do this on every exception, see the %pdb magic for more details.

default_option(fn, optstr)

Make an entry in the options_table for fn, with value optstr


Format a string for latex inclusion.


Define a macro for future re-execution. It accepts ranges of history, filenames or string objects.

%macro [options] name n1-n2 n3-n4 ... n5 .. n6 ...


-r: use ‘raw’ input. By default, the ‘processed’ history is used, so that magics are loaded in their transformed version to valid Python. If this option is given, the raw input as typed as the command line is used instead.

This will define a global variable called name which is a string made of joining the slices and lines you specify (n1,n2,... numbers above) from your input history into a single string. This variable acts like an automatic function which re-executes those lines as if you had typed them. You just type ‘name’ at the prompt and the code executes.

The syntax for indicating input ranges is described in %history.

Note: as a ‘hidden’ feature, you can also use traditional python slice notation, where N:M means numbers N through M-1.

For example, if your history contains (%hist prints it):

44: x=1
45: y=3
46: z=x+y
47: print x
48: a=5
49: print 'x',x,'y',y

you can create a macro with lines 44 through 47 (included) and line 49 called my_macro with:

In [55]: %macro my_macro 44-47 49

Now, typing my_macro (without quotes) will re-execute all this code in one pass.

You don’t need to give the line-numbers in order, and any given line number can appear multiple times. You can assemble macros with any lines from your input history in any order.

The macro is a simple object which holds its value in an attribute, but IPython’s display system checks for macros and executes them as code instead of printing them when you type their name.

You can view a macro’s contents by explicitly printing it with:

print macro_name
magics = {'cell': {'capture': 'capture', 'timeit': 'timeit', 'prun': 'prun'}, 'line': {'timeit': 'timeit', 'run': 'run', 'macro': 'macro', 'prun': 'prun', 'time': 'time', 'debug': 'debug', 'tb': 'tb', 'pdb': 'pdb'}}
options_table = None
parse_options(arg_str, opt_str, *long_opts, **kw)

Parse options passed to an argument string.

The interface is similar to that of getopt(), but it returns back a Struct with the options as keys and the stripped argument string still as a string.

arg_str is quoted as a true sys.argv vector by using shlex.split. This allows us to easily expand variables, glob files, quote arguments, etc.


-mode: default ‘string’. If given as ‘list’, the argument string is returned as a list (split on whitespace) instead of a string.

-list_all: put all option values in lists. Normally only options appearing more than once are put in a list.

-posix (True): whether to split the input line in POSIX mode or not, as per the conventions outlined in the shlex module from the standard library.


Control the automatic calling of the pdb interactive debugger.

Call as ‘%pdb on’, ‘%pdb 1’, ‘%pdb off’ or ‘%pdb 0’. If called without argument it works as a toggle.

When an exception is triggered, IPython can optionally call the interactive pdb debugger after the traceback printout. %pdb toggles this feature on and off.

The initial state of this feature is set in your configuration file (the option is InteractiveShell.pdb).

If you want to just activate the debugger AFTER an exception has fired, without having to type ‘%pdb on’ and rerunning your code, you can use the %debug magic.

profile_missing_notice(*args, **kwargs)
prun(parameter_s='', cell=None, user_mode=True, opts=None, arg_lst=None, prog_ns=None)

Run a statement through the python code profiler.

Usage, in line mode:
%prun [options] statement
Usage, in cell mode:
%%prun [options] [statement] code... code...

In cell mode, the additional code lines are appended to the (possibly empty) statement in the first line. Cell mode allows you to easily profile multiline blocks without having to put them in a separate function.

The given statement (which doesn’t require quote marks) is run via the python profiler in a manner similar to the profile.run() function. Namespaces are internally managed to work correctly; profile.run cannot be used in IPython because it makes certain assumptions about namespaces which do not hold under IPython.


-l <limit>: you can place restrictions on what or how much of the profile gets printed. The limit value can be:

  • A string: only information for function names containing this string

is printed.

  • An integer: only these many lines are printed.
  • A float (between 0 and 1): this fraction of the report is printed

(for example, use a limit of 0.4 to see the topmost 40% only).

You can combine several limits with repeated use of the option. For example, ‘-l __init__ -l 5’ will print only the topmost 5 lines of information about class constructors.

-r: return the pstats.Stats object generated by the profiling. This object has all the information about the profile in it, and you can later use it for further analysis or in other functions.

-s <key>: sort profile by given key. You can provide more than one key

by using the option several times: ‘-s key1 -s key2 -s key3...’. The default sorting key is ‘time’.

The following is copied verbatim from the profile documentation referenced below:

When more than one key is provided, additional keys are used as secondary criteria when the there is equality in all keys selected before them.

Abbreviations can be used for any key names, as long as the abbreviation is unambiguous. The following are the keys currently defined:

Valid Arg Meaning
“calls” call count “cumulative” cumulative time “file” file name “module” file name “pcalls” primitive call count “line” line number “name” function name “nfl” name/file/line “stdname” standard name “time” internal time

Note that all sorts on statistics are in descending order (placing most time consuming items first), where as name, file, and line number searches are in ascending order (i.e., alphabetical). The subtle distinction between “nfl” and “stdname” is that the standard name is a sort of the name as printed, which means that the embedded line numbers get compared in an odd way. For example, lines 3, 20, and 40 would (if the file names were the same) appear in the string order “20” “3” and “40”. In contrast, “nfl” does a numeric compare of the line numbers. In fact, sort_stats(“nfl”) is the same as sort_stats(“name”, “file”, “line”).

-T <filename>: save profile results as shown on screen to a text file. The profile is still shown on screen.

-D <filename>: save (via dump_stats) profile statistics to given filename. This data is in a format understood by the pstats module, and is generated by a call to the dump_stats() method of profile objects. The profile is still shown on screen.

-q: suppress output to the pager. Best used with -T and/or -D above.

If you want to run complete programs under the profiler’s control, use ‘%run -p [prof_opts] filename.py [args to program]’ where prof_opts contains profiler specific options as described here.

You can read the complete documentation for the profile module with:

In [1]: import profile; profile.help()
registered = True
run(parameter_s='', runner=None, file_finder=<function get_py_filename at 0x337bcf8>)

Run the named file inside IPython as a program.

%run [-n -i -t [-N<N>] -d [-b<N>] -p [profile options]] file [args]

Parameters after the filename are passed as command-line arguments to the program (put in sys.argv). Then, control returns to IPython’s prompt.

This is similar to running at a system prompt:
$ python file args

but with the advantage of giving you IPython’s tracebacks, and of loading all variables into your interactive namespace for further use (unless -p is used, see below).

The file is executed in a namespace initially consisting only of __name__==’__main__’ and sys.argv constructed as indicated. It thus sees its environment as if it were being run as a stand-alone program (except for sharing global objects such as previously imported modules). But after execution, the IPython interactive namespace gets updated with all variables defined in the program (except for __name__ and sys.argv). This allows for very convenient loading of code for interactive work, while giving each program a ‘clean sheet’ to run in.


-n: __name__ is NOT set to ‘__main__’, but to the running file’s name without extension (as python does under import). This allows running scripts and reloading the definitions in them without calling code protected by an ‘ if __name__ == “__main__” ‘ clause.

-i: run the file in IPython’s namespace instead of an empty one. This is useful if you are experimenting with code written in a text editor which depends on variables defined interactively.

-e: ignore sys.exit() calls or SystemExit exceptions in the script being run. This is particularly useful if IPython is being used to run unittests, which always exit with a sys.exit() call. In such cases you are interested in the output of the test results, not in seeing a traceback of the unittest module.

-t: print timing information at the end of the run. IPython will give you an estimated CPU time consumption for your script, which under Unix uses the resource module to avoid the wraparound problems of time.clock(). Under Unix, an estimate of time spent on system tasks is also given (for Windows platforms this is reported as 0.0).

If -t is given, an additional -N<N> option can be given, where <N> must be an integer indicating how many times you want the script to run. The final timing report will include total and per run results.

For example (testing the script uniq_stable.py):

In [1]: run -t uniq_stable

IPython CPU timings (estimated):\
  User  :    0.19597 s.\
  System:        0.0 s.\

In [2]: run -t -N5 uniq_stable

IPython CPU timings (estimated):\
Total runs performed: 5\
  Times :      Total       Per run\
  User  :   0.910862 s,  0.1821724 s.\
  System:        0.0 s,        0.0 s.

-d: run your program under the control of pdb, the Python debugger. This allows you to execute your program step by step, watch variables, etc. Internally, what IPython does is similar to calling:


with a breakpoint set on line 1 of your file. You can change the line number for this automatic breakpoint to be <N> by using the -bN option (where N must be an integer). For example:

%run -d -b40 myscript

will set the first breakpoint at line 40 in myscript.py. Note that the first breakpoint must be set on a line which actually does something (not a comment or docstring) for it to stop execution.

When the pdb debugger starts, you will see a (Pdb) prompt. You must first enter ‘c’ (without quotes) to start execution up to the first breakpoint.

Entering ‘help’ gives information about the use of the debugger. You can easily see pdb’s full documentation with “import pdb;pdb.help()” at a prompt.

-p: run program under the control of the Python profiler module (which prints a detailed report of execution times, function calls, etc).

You can pass other options after -p which affect the behavior of the profiler itself. See the docs for %prun for details.

In this mode, the program’s variables do NOT propagate back to the IPython interactive namespace (because they remain in the namespace where the profiler executes them).

Internally this triggers a call to %prun, see its documentation for details on the options available specifically for profiling.

There is one special usage for which the text above doesn’t apply: if the filename ends with .ipy, the file is run as ipython script, just as if the commands were written on IPython prompt.

-m: specify module name to load instead of script path. Similar to the -m option for the python interpreter. Use this option last if you want to combine with other %run options. Unlike the python interpreter only source modules are allowed no .pyc or .pyo files. For example:

%run -m example

will run the example module.

shell = None

Print the last traceback with the currently active exception mode.

See %xmode for changing exception reporting modes.

time(parameter_s, user_locals)

Time execution of a Python statement or expression.

The CPU and wall clock times are printed, and the value of the expression (if any) is returned. Note that under Win32, system time is always reported as 0, since it can not be measured.

This function provides very basic timing functionality. In Python 2.3, the timeit module offers more control and sophistication, so this could be rewritten to use it (patches welcome).


In [1]: time 2**128
CPU times: user 0.00 s, sys: 0.00 s, total: 0.00 s
Wall time: 0.00
Out[1]: 340282366920938463463374607431768211456L

In [2]: n = 1000000

In [3]: time sum(range(n))
CPU times: user 1.20 s, sys: 0.05 s, total: 1.25 s
Wall time: 1.37
Out[3]: 499999500000L

In [4]: time print 'hello world'
hello world
CPU times: user 0.00 s, sys: 0.00 s, total: 0.00 s
Wall time: 0.00

Note that the time needed by Python to compile the given expression
will be reported if it is more than 0.1s.  In this example, the
actual exponentiation is done by Python at compilation time, so while
the expression can take a noticeable amount of time to compute, that
time is purely due to the compilation:

In [5]: time 3**9999;
CPU times: user 0.00 s, sys: 0.00 s, total: 0.00 s
Wall time: 0.00 s

In [6]: time 3**999999;
CPU times: user 0.00 s, sys: 0.00 s, total: 0.00 s
Wall time: 0.00 s
Compiler : 0.78 s
timeit(line='', cell=None)

Time execution of a Python statement or expression

Usage, in line mode:
%timeit [-n<N> -r<R> [-t|-c]] statement
or in cell mode:
%%timeit [-n<N> -r<R> [-t|-c]] setup_code code code...

Time execution of a Python statement or expression using the timeit module. This function can be used both as a line and cell magic:

  • In line mode you can time a single-line statement (though multiple ones can be chained with using semicolons).
  • In cell mode, the statement in the first line is used as setup code (executed but not timed) and the body of the cell is timed. The cell body has access to any variables created in the setup code.

Options: -n<N>: execute the given statement <N> times in a loop. If this value is not given, a fitting value is chosen.

-r<R>: repeat the loop iteration <R> times and take the best result. Default: 3

-t: use time.time to measure the time, which is the default on Unix. This function measures wall time.

-c: use time.clock to measure the time, which is the default on Windows and measures wall time. On Unix, resource.getrusage is used instead and returns the CPU user time.

-p<P>: use a precision of <P> digits to display the timing result. Default: 3


In [1]: %timeit pass
10000000 loops, best of 3: 53.3 ns per loop

In [2]: u = None

In [3]: %timeit u is None
10000000 loops, best of 3: 184 ns per loop

In [4]: %timeit -r 4 u == None
1000000 loops, best of 4: 242 ns per loop

In [5]: import time

In [6]: %timeit -n1 time.sleep(2)
1 loops, best of 3: 2 s per loop

The times reported by %timeit will be slightly higher than those reported by the timeit.py script when variables are accessed. This is due to the fact that %timeit executes the statement in the namespace of the shell, compared with timeit.py, which uses a single setup statement to import function or create variables. Generally, the bias does not matter as long as results from timeit.py are not mixed with those from %timeit.