Last modified on 21 April 2014, at 23:01

Python Programming/Tuples

A tuple in Python is much like a list except that it is immutable (unchangeable) once created, and hashable and thus suitable as a key in a dictionary.

Tuple notationEdit

Tuples may be created directly or converted from lists. Generally, tuples are enclosed in parentheses.

>>> l = [1, 'a', [6, 3.14]]
>>> t = (1, 'a', [6, 3.14])
>>> t
(1, 'a', [6, 3.14])
>>> tuple(l)
(1, 'a', [6, 3.14])
>>> t == tuple(l)
True
>>> t == l
False

A one item tuple is created by an item in parentheses followed by a comma:

>>> t = ('A single item tuple',)
>>> t
('A single item tuple',)

Also, tuples will be created from items separated by commas.

>>> t = 'A', 'tuple', 'needs', 'no', 'parens'
>>> t
('A', 'tuple', 'needs', 'no', 'parens')

Packing and UnpackingEdit

You can also perform multiple assignment using tuples.

>>> article, noun, verb, adjective, direct_object = t   #t is defined above
>>> noun
'tuple'

Note that either, or both sides of an assignment operator can consist of tuples.

>>> a, b = 1, 2
>>> b
2

The example above: article, noun, verb, adjective, direct_object = t is called "tuple unpacking" because the tuple t was unpacked and its values assigned to each of the variables on the left. "Tuple packing" is the reverse: t=article, noun, verb, adjective, direct_object. When unpacking a tuple, or performing multiple assignment, you must have the same number of variables being assigned to as values being assigned.

Operations on tuplesEdit

These are the same as for lists except that we may not assign to indices or slices, and there is no "append" operator.

>>> a = (1, 2)
>>> b = (3, 4)
>>> a + b
(1, 2, 3, 4)
>>> a
(1, 2)
>>> b
(3, 4)
>>> a.append(3)
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "<stdin>", line 1, in ?
AttributeError: 'tuple' object has no attribute 'append'
>>> a
(1, 2)
>>> a[0] = 0
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "<stdin>", line 1, in ?
TypeError: object does not support item assignment
>>> a
(1, 2)

For lists we would have had:

>>> a = [1, 2]
>>> b = [3, 4]
>>> a + b
[1, 2, 3, 4]
>>> a
[1, 2]
>>> b
[3, 4]
>>> a.append(3)
>>> a
[1, 2, 3]
>>> a[0] = 0
>>> a
[0, 2, 3]

Tuple AttributesEdit

Length: Finding the length of a tuple is the same as with lists; use the built in len() method.

>>> len( ( 1, 2, 3) )
3
>>> a = ( 1, 2, 3, 4 )
>>> len( a )
4

ConversionsEdit

Convert list to tuples using the built in tuple() method.

>>> l = [4, 5, 6]
>>> tuple(l)
(4, 5, 6)

Converting a tuple into a list using the built in list() method to cast as a list:

>>> t = (4, 5, 6)
>>> list(t)
[4, 5, 6]

Dictionaries can also be converted to tuples of tuples using the items method of dictionaries:

>>> d = {'a': 1, 'b': 2}
>>> tuple(d.items())
(('a', 1), ('b', 2))

Uses of TuplesEdit

Tuples can be used in place of lists where the number of items is known and small, for example when returning multiple values from a function. Many other languages require creating an object or container to return, but with Python 's tuple assignment, multiple-value returns are easy:

def func(x,y):
    # code to compute x and y
    return x,y

This resulting tuple can be easily unpacked with the tuple assignment technique explained above:

x,y = func(1,2)

Using List Comprehension to process Tuple elementsEdit

Occasionally, there is a need to manipulate the values contained within a tuple in order to create a new tuple. For example, if we wanted a way to double all of the values within a tuple, we can combine some of the above information in addition to list comprehension like this:

def double(T):
    'double() - return a tuple with each tuple element (e) doubled.'
    return tuple( [ e * 2 for e in T ] )

ExercisesEdit

  1. Create the list ['a', 'b', 'c'], then create a tuple from that list.
  2. Create the tuple ('a', 'b', 'c'), then create a list from that tuple. (Hint: the material needed to do this has been covered, but it's not entirely obvious)
  3. Make the following instantiations simultaneously: a = 'a', b=2, c='gamma'. (That is, in one line of code).
  4. Create a tuple containing just a single element which in turn contains the three elements 'a', 'b', and 'c'. Verify that the length is actually 1 by using the len() function.

External linksEdit