Chapter 12. Tuples

This chapter presents one more built-in type, the tuple, and then shows how lists, dictionaries, and tuples work together. I also present a useful feature for variable-length argument lists: the gather and scatter operators.

One note: there is no consensus on how to pronounce “tuple”. Some people say “tuh-ple”, which rhymes with “supple”. But in the context of programming, most people say “too-ple”, which rhymes with “quadruple”.

Tuples Are Immutable

A tuple is a sequence of values. The values can be any type, and they are indexed by integers, so in that respect tuples are a lot like lists. The important difference is that tuples are immutable.

Syntactically, a tuple is a comma-separated list of values:

>>> t = 'a', 'b', 'c', 'd', 'e'

Although it is not necessary, it is common to enclose tuples in parentheses:

>>> t = ('a', 'b', 'c', 'd', 'e')

To create a tuple with a single element, you have to include a final comma:

>>> t1 = 'a',
>>> type(t1)
<class 'tuple'>

A value in parentheses is not a tuple:

>>> t2 = ('a')
>>> type(t2)
<class 'str'>

Another way to create a tuple is the built-in function tuple. With no argument, it creates an empty tuple:

>>> t = tuple()
>>> t

If the argument is a sequence (string, list or tuple), the result is a tuple with the elements of the sequence:

>>> t = tuple('lupins')
>>> t
('l', 'u', 'p', 'i', 'n', 's')

Because tuple is the name of a built-in function, you should avoid using it as a variable name.

Most list operators also work on ...

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