While a language specification need not prescribe how the language
interpreter is invoked, it is useful to have a notion of a complete
Python program. A complete Python program is executed in a minimally
initialized environment: all built-in and standard modules are
available, but none have been initialized, except for sys
(various system services), __builtin__ (built-in functions,
None) and __main__. The latter is used
to provide the local and global namespace for execution of the
The syntax for a complete Python program is that for file input, described in the next section.
The interpreter may also be invoked in interactive mode; in this case, it does not read and execute a complete program but reads and executes one statement (possibly compound) at a time. The initial environment is identical to that of a complete program; each statement is executed in the namespace of __main__.
Under Unix, a complete program can be passed to the interpreter in three forms: with the -c string command line option, as a file passed as the first command line argument, or as standard input. If the file or standard input is a tty device, the interpreter enters interactive mode; otherwise, it executes the file as a complete program.
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