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Fri 28 April 2017

Tuples (and namedtuples) as Python Dictionary Keys

Posted by Aly Sivji in Quick Hits   

Was reading the Python design FAQs and saw that immutable elements can be used as dictionary keys.

Wait a minute.... tuples are immutable, can they be used as dictionary keys? YES!

In [1]:
my_dict = {}
my_dict[('Aly', 'Sivji')] = True
{('Aly', 'Sivji'): True}

What about namedtuples? YES! namedtuples are also immutable.

In [2]:
from collections import namedtuple

Person = namedtuple('Person', ['first_name', 'last_name'])
me = Person(first_name='Bob', last_name='Smith')
my_dict[me] = True
{('Aly', 'Sivji'): True, Person(first_name='Bob', last_name='Smith'): True}

Any immutable datatype can be used as a dictionary key!

My data structures can get even flatter!

In [3]:
import this
The Zen of Python, by Tim Peters

Beautiful is better than ugly.
Explicit is better than implicit.
Simple is better than complex.
Complex is better than complicated.
Flat is better than nested.
Sparse is better than dense.
Readability counts.
Special cases aren't special enough to break the rules.
Although practicality beats purity.
Errors should never pass silently.
Unless explicitly silenced.
In the face of ambiguity, refuse the temptation to guess.
There should be one-- and preferably only one --obvious way to do it.
Although that way may not be obvious at first unless you're Dutch.
Now is better than never.
Although never is often better than *right* now.
If the implementation is hard to explain, it's a bad idea.
If the implementation is easy to explain, it may be a good idea.
Namespaces are one honking great idea -- let's do more of those!

Stay Pythonic!