Most frequently used words in a text with Python

The challenge

Write a function that, given a string of text (possibly with punctuation and line-breaks), returns an array of the top-3 most occurring words, in descending order of the number of occurrences.

Assumptions:

  • A word is a string of letters (A to Z) optionally containing one or more apostrophes (‘) in ASCII. (No need to handle fancy punctuation.)
  • Matches should be case-insensitive, and the words in the result should be lowercased.
  • Ties may be broken arbitrarily.
  • If a text contains fewer than three unique words, then either the top-2 or top-1 words should be returned, or an empty array if a text contains no words.

Examples:

top_3_words("In a village of La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire to call to
mind, there lived not long since one of those gentlemen that keep a lance
in the lance-rack, an old buckler, a lean hack, and a greyhound for
coursing. An olla of rather more beef than mutton, a salad on most
nights, scraps on Saturdays, lentils on Fridays, and a pigeon or so extra
on Sundays, made away with three-quarters of his income.")
# => ["a", "of", "on"]

top_3_words("e e e e DDD ddd DdD: ddd ddd aa aA Aa, bb cc cC e e e")
# => ["e", "ddd", "aa"]

top_3_words("  //wont won't won't")
# => ["won't", "wont"]

Bonus points:

  1. Avoid creating an array whose memory footprint is roughly as big as the input text.
  2. Avoid sorting the entire array of unique words.

Test cases

from random import choice, randint, sample, shuffle, choices
import re
from collections import Counter


def check(s, this=None):                                            # this: only for debugging purpose
    returned_result = top_3_words(s) if this is None else this
    fs = Counter(w for w in re.findall(r"[a-zA-Z']+", s.lower()) if w != "'" * len(w))
    exp,expected_frequencies = map(list,zip(*fs.most_common(3))) if fs else ([],[])
    
    msg = ''
    wrong_words = [w for w in returned_result if not fs[w]]
    actual_freq = [fs[w] for w in returned_result]
    
    if wrong_words:
        msg = 'Incorrect match: words not present in the string. Your output: {}. One possible valid answer: {}'.format(returned_result, exp)
    elif len(set(returned_result)) != len(returned_result):
        msg = 'The result should not contain copies of the same word. Your output: {}. One possible output: {}'.format(returned_result, exp)
    elif actual_freq!=expected_frequencies:
        msg = "Incorrect frequencies: {} should be {}. Your output: {}. One possible output: {}".format(actual_freq, expected_frequencies, returned_result, exp)
    
    Test.expect(not msg, msg)



@test.describe("Fixed tests")
def fixed_tests():

    TESTS = (
    "a a a  b  c c  d d d d  e e e e e",
    "e e e e DDD ddd DdD: ddd ddd aa aA Aa, bb cc cC e e e",
    "  //wont won't won't ",
    "  , e   .. ",
    "  ...  ",
    "  '  ",
    "  '''  ",
    """In a village of La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire to cao
    mind, there lived not long since one of those gentlemen that keep a lance
    in the lance-rack, an old buckler, a lean hack, and a greyhound for
    coursing. An olla of rather more beef than mutton, a salad on most
    nights, scraps on Saturdays, lentils on Fridays, and a pigeon or so extra
    on Sundays, made away with three-quarters of his income.""",
    "a a a  b  c c X",
    "a a c b b",
    )
    for s in TESTS: check(s)
    
@test.describe("Random tests")
def random_tests():
    
    def gen_word():
        return "".join(choice("abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ'") for _ in range(randint(3, 10)))
    
    def gen_string():
        words = []
        nums = choices(range(1, 31), k=20)
        for _ in range(randint(0, 20)):
            words += [gen_word()] * nums.pop()
        shuffle(words)
        s = ""
        while words:
            s += words.pop() + "".join(choice("-,.?!_:;/ ") for _ in range(randint(1, 5)))
        return s
    
    @test.it("Tests")
    def it_1():
        for _ in range(100): check(gen_string())
            

The solution using Python

Option 1:

# use the Counter module
from collections import Counter
# use the regex module
import re

def top_3_words(text):
    # count the input, pass through a regex and lowercase it
    c = Counter(re.findall(r"[a-z']+", re.sub(r" '+ ", " ", text.lower())))
    # return the `most common` 3 items
    return [w for w,_ in c.most_common(3)]

Option 2:

def top_3_words(text):
    # loop through each character in the string
    for c in text:
        # if it's not alphanumeric or an apostrophe
        if not (c.isalpha() or c=="'"):
            # replace with a space
            text = text.replace(c,' ')
    # create some `list` variables
    words,counts,out = [],[],[]

    # loop through the words in the text
    for word in list(filter(None,text.lower().split())):
        # if in all, then continue
        if all([not c.isalpha() for c in word]):
            continue
        # if the word is in the words list
        if word in words:
            # increment the count
            counts[words.index(word)] += 1
        else:
            # otherwise create a new entry
            words.append(word); counts.append(0)

    # loop while bigger than 0 and less than 3
    while len(words)>0 and len(out)<3:
        # append the counts
        out.append(words.pop(counts.index(max(counts))).lower())
        counts.remove(max(counts))
    # return the counts
    return out

Option 3:

def top_3_words(text):
    wrds = {}
    for p in r'!"#$%&()*+,./:;<=>[email protected][\]^_`{|}~-':
        text = text.replace(p, ' ')
    for w in text.lower().split():
        if w.replace("'", '') != '':
            wrds[w] = wrds.get(w, 0) + 1
    return [y[0] for y in sorted(wrds.items(), key=lambda x: x[1], reverse=True)[:3]]
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