[Python-Dev] Immutability vs. hashability

Nick Coghlan ncoghlan at gmail.com
Sun Feb 4 20:54:37 EST 2018

On 5 February 2018 at 08:31, Guido van Rossum <guido at python.org> wrote:
> On Sun, Feb 4, 2018 at 11:59 AM, Chris Barker - NOAA Federal
> <chris.barker at noaa.gov> wrote:
>> I think the folks that are concerned about this issue are quite right
>> — most Python users equate immutable and hashable—so the dataclass API
>> should reflect that.
> Since they are *not* equivalent (consider a tuple containing a list) I'm not
> at all convinced that any API in the core language should "reflect" this
> misconception, depending on how you meant that.

Lists are themselves mutable, and hence inherently unhashable.

Tuples are themselves immutable, and hence hashable if their contents are.

I interpret Chris's comment as saying that data classes should behave
the same way that the builtin container types do:

* if the data class itself is mutable (frozen=False, comparable to
list, dict, set), then it is *not* hashable (unless you explicitly
implement __hash__)

* if the data class itself is immutable (frozen=True, comparable to
tuple or frozenset), then whether or not it is hashable depends on
whether or not the field values are hashable.

It's the ability to ask the interpreter to guess what you mean
"frozen=False, hash=True" that creates the likelihood of confusion.

Whereas if we leave out the "hash=True" option entirely, then the most
natural way to obtain a partially-mutable record, which has a fixed
comparison key and selectively mutable state, then the recommended way
of handling that would be through containment, where the mutable state
is moved out to a subrecord that gets excluded from hashes and


Nick Coghlan   |   ncoghlan at gmail.com   |   Brisbane, Australia

More information about the Python-Dev mailing list