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10.7: Using Tuples as Keys in Dictionaries

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  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    Because tuples are hashable and lists are not, if we want to create a composite key to use in a dictionary we must use a tuple as the key.

    We would encounter a composite key if we wanted to create a telephone directory that maps from last-name, first-name pairs to telephone numbers. Assuming that we have defined the variables last, first, and number, we could write a dictionary assignment statement as follows:

    directory[last,first] = number

    The expression in brackets is a tuple. We could use tuple assignment in a for loop to traverse this dictionary.

    for last, first in directory:
        print(first, last, directory[last,first])

    This loop traverses the keys in directory, which are tuples. It assigns the elements of each tuple to last and first, then prints the name and corresponding telephone number.

    10.7: Using Tuples as Keys in Dictionaries is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Chuck Severance.