Puzzled by "is"

Steve Holden steve at holdenweb.com
Thu Aug 9 21:53:28 CEST 2007

Dick Moores wrote:
> At 10:46 AM 8/9/2007, Bill Scherer wrote:
>> Dick Moores wrote:
>> There is only one empty tuple.
>> Does that clear it up for you?
> But isn't that the same as saying, "That's just the reality of 
> Python; it is what it is."? I want to know why there is only one 
> empty tuple, but more than one (1,).
Why? Because.

Seriously, it's just an optimization by the implementers. There is no 
need for more than one empty tuple, since tuples can never be modified 
once created.

But they decided not to create (1, ) in advance. They probably knew that 
hardly anybody would want to create that tuple ;-) [Seriously: if you 
started trying to predict which tuples would be used you would go 
insane, but the empty tuple is the most likely candidate].

> Also,
>  >>> [] is []
> False
In that case it would definitely NOT make sense to have them the same 
list. Python always ensures that the [] constructor creates a new list, 
since that list may be bound to one or more variables and mutated. You 
wouldn't want

   a = []
   b = []

to change b so it was no longer an empty list. If you wanted a and b to 
reference the same list you would change the second statement to

   b = a

Steve Holden        +1 571 484 6266   +1 800 494 3119
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