Totally Confused: Passing variables to functions

Chuck cdreward at
Thu Jun 5 13:26:31 CEST 2003

>> This doesn't seem very intuitive,

', which leads me to believe I'm missing "the big picture".', as I said. I'm
sure it is all very simple, once understood.

I'm new here...

>  >>> v = [1,2]
>  >>> arg = v
>  >>> arg.append(3)
>  >>> v
>  [1, 2, 3]

I'm not "getting" variables in Python, then.

What exactly happens when I say "arg = v"?

Not "arg is assigned the value [1,2] that v happens to hold"...

Not "arg now points to v" (can't be, since you can delete v and arg still

It seems to say, "arg now points to what v also points to".. is this correct?

And so...

a = 1
b = a

is really saying, "b points to what a points to, which is a 'variable' with
the value of 1, which cannot be changed (immutable)".

Is this correct?

If so, I *think* I'm starting to "get it"...  ;-)

>Same as your original function, right?

Seems that way.

So is it safe to say that variables are never "copied" when passed to a
function in Python? No memory is ever allocated, no "second copy" is made,
just a.. uhmm.. a "binding" to the original variable you "passed" as the

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