Python dictionary size/entry limit?

intelliminer at intelliminer at
Sat Feb 21 10:35:14 CET 2009

I wrote a script to process textual data and extract phrases from
them, storing these phrases in a dictionary. It encounters a
MemoryError when there are about 11.18M keys in the dictionary, and
the size is about 1.5GB. I tried multiple times, and the error occurs
everytime at exactly the same place (with the same number of keys in
the dict). I then split the dictionary into two using a simple

if str[0]<='m':

#use dict...

And it worked fine. The total size of the two dictionaries well
exceeded 2GB yet no MemoryError occured.

I have 1GB of pysical memory and 3GB in pagefile. Is there a limit to
the size or number of entries that a single dictionary can possess? By
searching on the web I can't find a clue why this problem occurs.

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