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Global Variables in Python

Global Variables in Python

Global variables in Python serve as accessible containers for data, allowing storage and modification throughout the entire program. They play a key role in maintaining shared values across functions or modules, enabling easy access to essential information universally. However, their widespread accessibility requires cautious use to prevent unintended complications and maintain code readability. Balancing their convenience with careful management ensures effective utilization without sacrificing code clarity.

Scope of Global Variables

In Python, global variables have a scope that extends throughout the entire program. These variables are defined outside of functions or any specific block of code, making them accessible from anywhere within the program, including within functions.

How to Modify a Global Variable within a Function

To modify a global variable within a function in Python, you need to use the global keyword to explicitly declare the variable's global scope within that function. This allows you to access and modify the global variable.

Here's an example demonstrating how to modify a global variable inside a function:

global_var = 10  # Global variable

def modify_global():
global global_var  # Declare global variable inside function
global_var = 20    # Modify the value of the global variable inside the function

# Display global variable before function call
print("Global variable before function call:", global_var)  # Output: 10

# Call function to modify global variable

# Display global variable after function call
print("Global variable after function call:", global_var)  # Output: 20

Using the global keyword within the function scope allows you to access and modify the global variable's value. The change made inside the function will affect the global variable outside the function's scope.

Usage of Global Variables

Global variables in Python can be used to store values that need to be accessed and modified from multiple parts of a program, including different functions or modules. They offer a centralized way to maintain data that is shared across the entire codebase.

Some common use cases and considerations for using global variables:

  1. Configuration Settings: Storing configuration parameters or settings that remain constant throughout the program, such as constants or default values.
  2. Maintaining State: Keeping track of the program's state or certain conditions that need to persist across different functions or modules.
  3. Sharing Data: Sharing data or information between various parts of a program without explicitly passing them as function arguments.
  4. Caching or Memoization: Storing previously computed results or caching data to optimize performance in certain algorithms.


While global variables provide accessibility across the program, their usage should be handled with care to ensure code maintainability and to avoid potential issues that arise from their extensive use. Striking a balance between their convenience and potential drawbacks is essential for writing clean and maintainable code.


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Updated: 15 March 2024