Learning Python Part-17: Python Dictionary

Dictionary in Python, is an unordered collection of ‘key’ and ‘value’ pairs. It is generally used when we have a huge amount of data. Some sample example use cases like Employee data or phonebook where we can use dictionaries in Python. Dictionaries are optimised for retrieving data. We must know the key to retrieve the value.

  • Python dictionary is an unordered collection of items. 
  • While lists tuples have only value as an element, a dictionary has a ‘key’:’value’ pair.
  • Dictionaries are optimised to retrieve values when the key is known.
  • An element has a key and the corresponding value expressed as a pair, key: value.
  • While values can be of any data type and can repeat, keys must be of immutable type (string, number or tuple with immutable elements) and must be unique.
  • Key and value pairs can be of any type.
  • In Python, dictionaries are defined within braces {} with each item being a pair in the form key:value.

d = {‘fruit1′:’apple’, ‘fruit2′:’banana’, ‘rate_apple’: 100, ‘rate_banana’: 40}


# Output will be:

{‘fruit1’: ‘apple’, ‘fruit2’: ‘banana’, ‘rate_apple’: 100, ‘rate_banana’: 40}

Few more examples:

# empty dictionary

d = {}

# dictionary with integer keys

d = {1: ‘apple’, 2: ‘banana’}

# dictionary with mixed keys

d = {‘name’: ‘eddy’, 1: [2, 4, 3]}

# using dict()

d = dict({1:’apple’, 2:’banana’})

# from sequence having each item as a pair

d = dict([(1,’apple’), (2,’banana’)])

  • We use key to retrieve the respective value not slicing as shown below. 

print(d['banana'])       ### This will result in error as we cannot use values

How to access elements from a dictionary?

  • While indexing is used with other container types to access values, dictionary uses keys.
  • Key can be used either inside square brackets or with the get() method.
  • The difference while using get() is that it returns None instead of KeyError, if the key is not found.

d = {‘name’:’Eddy’, ‘age’: 32}

print(d[‘name’])                          # Output: Eddy
print(d.get(‘age’))                       # Output: 32

How to change or add elements in a dictionary?

  • Python dictionaries are mutable in nature. 
  • We can add new items or change the value of existing items using assignment operator.
  • If the key is already present, value gets updated, else a new key: value pair is added to the dictionary.

d = {‘name’:’Eddy’, ‘age’: 32}

d[‘age’] = 33                                       # update value
print(d)                                               #Output: {‘age’: 33, ‘name’: ‘Eddy’}

d[‘address’] = ‘India’                           # add item
print(d)                                               # Output: {‘address’: ‘India’, ‘age’: 33, ‘name’: ‘Eddy’}

How to delete or remove elements from a dictionary?

  • We can remove a particular item in a dictionary by using the pop() method. 
  • This method removes as item with the provided key and returns the value.
  • The method, popitem() can be used to remove and return an arbitrary item (key, value) form the dictionary. 
  • All the items can be removed at once using the clear()method.
  • We can also use the del keyword to remove individual items or the entire dictionary itself.

square = {1:1, 2:4, 3:9, 4:16, 5:25}
print(square.pop(4))                              # Remove a particular item # Output: 16

print(square)                                         # Output: {1: 1, 2: 4, 3: 9, 5: 25}

print(square.popitem())                        # Remove an arbitrary item. # Output: (1, 1)

print(square)                                         # Output: {2: 4, 3: 9, 5: 25}

del square[5]                                         # Delete a particular item
print(square)                                         # Output: {2: 4, 3: 9}

square.clear()                                        # Remove all items
print(square)                                         # Output: {}

del square                                              # Delete the dictionary itself

Python Dictionary Methods:

Python Dictionary Comprehension:

  • Dictionary comprehension is an elegant and concise way to create new dictionary from an iterable in Python.
  • Dictionary comprehension consists of an expression pair (key: value) followed by for statement inside curly braces {}.
  • Here is an example to make a dictionary with each item being a pair of a number and its square.

square = {x: x*x for x in range(6)}

print(square)                                     # Output: {0: 0, 1: 1, 2: 4, 3: 9, 4: 16, 5: 25}

  • A dictionary comprehension can optionally contain more for or if statements.

Other Dictionary Operations:

  • Dictionary Membership Test
    • We can test if a key is in a dictionary or not using the keyword in. 
    • Notice that membership test is for keys only, not for values.

square = {1: 1, 3: 9, 5: 25, 7: 49, 9: 81}
print(1 in square)                                                 # Output: True

print(2 not in square)                                           # Output: True

print(49 in square)                                               # Output: False

#membership tests only keys(not value) hence False output

  • Iterating Through a Dictionary
    • Using a for loop we can iterate though each key in a dictionary.

square = {1: 1, 3: 9, 5: 25, 7: 49, 9: 81}
for x in square:

Built-in Functions with Dictionary:

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