a question regarding conciseness

Jeff Shannon jeff at ccvcorp.com
Wed Feb 20 16:10:18 EST 2002

Rajarshi Guha wrote:

> for i in d.keys().sort():
>   do something
> I get:
> Traceback (innermost last):
>   File "<stdin>", line 1, in ?
> TypeError: loop over non-sequence

sort() sorts lists in place, it does not return a value.  (Well, technicially,
it returns None...)  This was, IIRC, a deliberate design decision.  If
mylist.sort() returned the sorted list, then it would be intuitive to expect
that mylist is unchanged, and the sorted list is a copy.  That's not the case,
though.  While sort() could have been specified to return a copy, there are
many times when one would want to sort a list in-place (such as to save memory
with a very large list).  It's easy to make a copy from an in-place sorted
list, but not easy to avoid the copy in other case.

So, in short, what you need to do is:

keys = d.keys()
for key in keys:

Yes, it's an extra couple lines of code, but it isn't much more typing, and it
makes it a little more clear just what's happening.

Jeff Shannon
Credit International

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