python: Appending a dictionary to a list - I see a pointer like behavior


Question

I tried the following in the python interpreter:

>>>
>>> a = []
>>> b = {1:'one'}
>>> a.append(b)
>>> a
[{1: 'one'}]
>>> b[1] = 'ONE'
>>> a
[{1: 'ONE'}]
>>>

Here, after appending the dictionary 'b' to the list 'a', I'm changing the value corresponding to the key 1 in dictionary 'a'. Somehow this change gets reflected in the list too. When I append a dictionary to a list, am I not just appending the value of dictionary? It looks as if I have appended a pointer to the dictionary to the list and hence the changes to the dictionary are getting reflected in the list too.

I do not want the change to get reflected in the list. How do I do it?

Thank you for your time!

1
55
3/9/2011 11:02:53 AM

Accepted Answer

You are correct in that your list contains a reference to the original dictionary.

a.append(b.copy()) should do the trick.

Bear in mind that this makes a shallow copy. An alternative is to use copy.deepcopy(b), which makes a deep copy.

103
3/9/2011 11:25:22 AM

Also with dict

a = []
b = {1:'one'}

a.append(dict(b))
print a
b[1]='iuqsdgf'
print a

result

[{1: 'one'}]
[{1: 'one'}]

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