python – How to sort a list of objects based on an attribute of the objects?

python – How to sort a list of objects based on an attribute of the objects?

# To sort the list in place...
ut.sort(key=lambda x: x.count, reverse=True)

# To return a new list, use the sorted() built-in function...
newlist = sorted(ut, key=lambda x: x.count, reverse=True)

More on sorting by keys.

A way that can be fastest, especially if your list has a lot of records, is to use operator.attrgetter(count). However, this might run on an pre-operator version of Python, so it would be nice to have a fallback mechanism. You might want to do the following, then:

try: import operator
except ImportError: keyfun= lambda x: x.count # use a lambda if no operator module
else: keyfun= operator.attrgetter(count) # use operator since its faster than lambda

ut.sort(key=keyfun, reverse=True) # sort in-place

python – How to sort a list of objects based on an attribute of the objects?

Readers should notice that the key= method:

ut.sort(key=lambda x: x.count, reverse=True)

is many times faster than adding rich comparison operators to the objects. I was surprised to read this (page 485 of Python in a Nutshell). You can confirm this by running tests on this little program:

#!/usr/bin/env python
import random

class C:
    def __init__(self,count):
        self.count = count

    def __cmp__(self,other):
        return cmp(self.count,other.count)

longList = [C(random.random()) for i in xrange(1000000)] #about 6.1 secs
longList2 = longList[:]

longList.sort() #about 52 - 6.1 = 46 secs
longList2.sort(key = lambda c: c.count) #about 9 - 6.1 = 3 secs

My, very minimal, tests show the first sort is more than 10 times slower, but the book says it is only about 5 times slower in general. The reason they say is due to the highly optimizes sort algorithm used in python (timsort).

Still, its very odd that .sort(lambda) is faster than plain old .sort(). I hope they fix that.

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