This article is about Python lists. I just want to show you some examples of the unexpected behavior (for non-python-programmers) of lists in Python.
Imagine you have the following Python source code:
#!/usr/bin/python # -*- coding: utf-8 -*- import copy example1 = [[1,5,7],[3,6],, [8,1,6]] example2 = example1[:] example3 = list(example1) example4 = copy.deepcopy(example1) example1 = 0 example1.append(1) print example1 print example2 print example3 print example4
How should the output look like? Think about it a second, then scroll down.
[[1,5,7],[0,6],,[8,1,6],1] [[1,5,7],[0,6],,[8,1,6]] [[1,5,7],[0,6],,[8,1,6]] [[1,5,7],[3,6],,[8,1,6]]
The reason for this strange behavior is how lists are handled in Python. The variable itself is basically only the pointer to the list. If you slice the list (myList[:]) you copy each value of the list into another list. If myList was a nested list, it contained the pointers to the sublists. So, if you want to make a deep copy, you have to use the copy module.
phimuemue added this example in my old blog:
Another issue I ran into concerns the scoping of Python:
i=0 [i for i in [1,2,3]] print (i) # yields 3
That means, python doesn’t create a new variable for the list comprehension but uses the outer i.
a = [1, 2, 3] b = [4, 5, 6] a.append(b) print(a) [1, 2, 3, [4, 5, 6]] b.append(a) print(b) [4, 5, 6, [1, 2, 3, [...]]] print(a) [1, 2, 3, [4, 5, 6, [...]]]
Do you know more examples of unexpected behavior of python lists? Please share them in the comments!