Tuples and immutability

Terry Reedy tjreedy at udel.edu
Thu Mar 13 03:09:24 CET 2014


On 3/12/2014 9:35 PM, Ian Kelly wrote:
> On Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 5:20 PM, Steven D'Aprano
> <steve+comp.lang.python at pearwood.info> wrote:
>> On Tue, 11 Mar 2014 17:06:43 -0600, Ian Kelly wrote:
>>
>>> That's true but irrelevant to my point, which was to counter the
>>> assertion that mutable types can always be assumed to be able to perform
>>> operations in-place.
>>
>> "Always"? Not so fast.
>>
>> This is Python. We have freedom to abuse nearly everything, and if you
>> want to shoot yourself in the foot, you can. With the exception of a
>> handful of things which cannot be overridden (e.g. None, numeric
>> literals, syntax) you cannot strictly assume anything about anything.
>> Python does not enforce that iterators raise StopIteration when empty, or
>> that indexing beyond the boundaries of a sequence raises IndexError, or
>> that __setitem__ of a mapping sets the key and value, or that __len__
>> returns a length.
>
> Thank you; you've stated my point more succinctly than I did.
>
>> Augmented assignment is no different. The docs describe the intention of
>> the designers and the behaviour of the classes that they control, so with
>> standard built-in classes like int, str, list, tuple etc. you can safely
>> assume that mutable types will perform the operation in place and
>> immutable types won't, but with arbitrary types from some arbitrarily
>> eccentric or twisted programmer, who knows what it will do?
>
> This got me curious about how consistent the standard library is about
> this exactly, so I did some grepping.  In the standard library there
> are 5 mutable types that support concatenation that I was able to
> find: list, deque, array, bytearray, and Counter.  There are none that
> support addition, which I find interesting in that the language
> provides hooks for in-place addition but never uses them itself.
>
> All of the classes above appear to follow the rule that if you can
> concatenate an operand, you can in-place concatenate the same operand.
>   The converse however does not hold:  list.__iadd__ and
> Counter.__iadd__ are both more permissive in what types they will
> accept than their __add__ counterparts, and especially interesting to
> me is that deque implements __iadd__ but does not implement __add__ at
> all.  This last in particular seems to support the assertion that +=
> should be viewed more as a shorthand for an in-place operation, less
> as an equivalent for x = x + y.
>
>>>> l = [1,2,3]
>>>> l + (4,5,6)
> Traceback (most recent call last):
>    File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
> TypeError: can only concatenate list (not "tuple") to list
>>>> l += (4,5,6)
>>>> l
> [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]

Like it or not, one should actually think of 'somelist += iterable' as 
equivalent to 'somelist.extend(iterable)'.  Without looking at the C 
code, I  suspect that the latter is the internal implementation. 
Collections.deque also has .extend. Collections.Counter has .update and 
that is += seems to be doing.


>>>> c = collections.Counter('mississippi')
>>>> c + collections.Counter('alabama')
> Counter({'s': 4, 'a': 4, 'i': 4, 'p': 2, 'm': 2, 'b': 1, 'l': 1})
>>>> c + dict({'a': 4, 'l': 1, 'b': 1, 'm': 1})
> Traceback (most recent call last):
>    File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
> TypeError: unsupported operand type(s) for +: 'Counter' and 'dict'
>>>> c += dict({'a': 4, 'l': 1, 'b': 1, 'm': 1})
>>>> c
> Counter({'s': 4, 'a': 4, 'i': 4, 'p': 2, 'm': 2, 'b': 1, 'l': 1})
>
>>>> d = collections.deque([1,2,3])
>>>> d += [4,5,6]
>>>> d
> deque([1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6])
>>>> d + [7,8,9]
> Traceback (most recent call last):
>    File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
> TypeError: unsupported operand type(s) for +: 'collections.deque' and 'list'
>>>> d.__add__
> Traceback (most recent call last):
>    File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
> AttributeError: 'collections.deque' object has no attribute '__add__'
>


-- 
Terry Jan Reedy




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