UNIX-style sort in Python?

Andrew Dalke adalke at mindspring.com
Mon Oct 18 02:42:46 CEST 2004

Kotlin Sam wrote:
>   % sort -t, +2 +5 imputfilename <return>

>   So, is there a module or function already available that does this?

In newer Pythons (CVS and beta-1 for 2.4) you can do

def get_fields(line):
   fields = line.split("\t")
   return fields[1], fields[4]

sorted_lines = sorted(open("imputfilename"), key=get_fields)

For older Pythons you'll need to do the "decorate-sort-undecorate"
("DSU") yourself, like this

lines = [get_fields(line), line for line in open("imputfilename")]
sorted_lines = [x[1] for x in lines]

There is a slight difference between these two.  If fields[1]
and fields[4] are the same between two lines in the comparison
then the first of these sorts by position of each line (it's
a "stable sort") while the latter sorts by the content of the

				dalke at dalkescientific.com

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