[Python-Dev] Another case for frozendict

dw+python-dev at hmmz.org dw+python-dev at hmmz.org
Wed Jul 16 16:04:29 CEST 2014

On Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 09:47:59AM -0400, R. David Murray wrote:

> It would be nice to be able to return a frozendict instead of having the
> overhead of building a new dict on each call.

There already is an in-between available both to Python and C:
PyDictProxy_New() / types.MappingProxyType. It's a one line change in
each case to return a temporary intermediary, using something like (C):
    return self->dict;

    return PyDictProxy_New(self->dict);

Or Python:
    return self.dct

    return types.MappingProxyType(self.dct)

Which is cheaper than a copy, and avoids having to audit every use of
self->dict to ensure the semantics required for a "frozendict" are
respected, i.e. no mutation occurs after the dict becomes visible to the
user, and potentially has __hash__ called.

> That by itself might not be enough reason.  But, if the user wants to
> use the data in modified form elsewhere, they would then have to
> construct a new regular dict out of it, making the decision to vary
> the data from what matches the state of the object it came from an
> explicit one.  That seems to fit the Python zen ("explicit is better
> than implicit").
> So I'm changing my mind, and do consider this a valid use case, even
> absent the crash.

Avoiding crashes seems a better use for a read-only proxy, rather than a
hashable immutable type.


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