# What does x[:]=[4,5,6] mean?

Alex Martelli aleaxit at yahoo.com
Mon Jun 4 15:29:43 EDT 2001

```"Jonathan Gardner" <gardner at cardomain.com> wrote in message
news:9fgm2k\$at7\$1 at brokaw.wa.com...
...
> The bottom line is the assignment operator _never_ makes a copy of
> something - the end result is to make the variables point to the object on
> the right hand side.

Hmmm... assignment to a _slice_ may be slightly different in
this regard, so, given the subject of this thread, take care...

>>> a=[1,2,3]
>>> b=[4,5,6]
>>> a[:]=b
>>> c=b
>>> b[1]=99
>>> a
[4, 5, 6]
>>> b
[4, 99, 6]
>>> c
[4, 99, 6]
>>>

See?  The a[:]=b *has* "made a copy of something" -- quite
different from the c=b.  No references to the object bound to
b have been added by the slice assignment -- rather, the items
have been copied.  You could say it's the work of a's __setitem__
(or built-in list's equivalent thereof) when it receives a slice
argument, but it may be simpler to explain as the assignment
doing the copy in this case, I think.

Alex

```