Skip to ContentGo to accessibility pageKeyboard shortcuts menu
OpenStax Logo
Introduction to Python Programming

10.3 Dictionary operations

Introduction to Python Programming10.3 Dictionary operations

Learning objectives

By the end of this section you should be able to

  • Recognize that a dictionary object is mutable.
  • Evaluate dictionary items, keys, and values.
  • Demonstrate the ability to access, evaluate, and modify dictionary items.
  • Modify a dictionary by adding items.
  • Modify a dictionary by removing items.

Accessing dictionary items

In Python, values associated with keys in a dictionary can be accessed using the keys as indexes. Here are two ways to access dictionary items in Python:

  • Square bracket notation: Square brackets [] with the key inside access the value associated with that key. If the key is not found, an exception will be thrown.
  • get() method: The get() method is called with the key as an argument to access the value associated with that key. If the key is not found, the method returns None by default, or a default value specified as the second argument.

Ex: In the code below, a dictionary object my_dict is initialized with items {"apple": 2, "banana": 3, "orange": 4}. The square bracket notation and get() method are used to access values associated with the keys "banana" and "apple", respectively. When accessing the dictionary to obtain the key "pineapple", -1 is returned since the key does not exist in the dictionary.

    my_dict = {"apple": 2, "banana": 3, "orange": 4}
    print(my_dict["banana"]) # Prints: 3
    print(my_dict.get("apple")) # Prints: 2
    print(my_dict.get("pineapple", -1)) # Prints: -1
    

Checkpoint

Accessing dictionary items

Concepts in Practice

Dictionary items

Given the dictionary members = {"Jaya": "Student", "John": "TA", "Ksenia": "Staff"}, answer the following questions.

1.
What is the output of members["Jaya"]?
  1. 0
  2. None
  3. "Student"
2.
What is the output of members.get("jaya")?
  1. 0
  2. None
  3. "Student"
3.
What is the output of members.get("jaya", "does not exist")?
  1. "Student"
  2. "does not exist"
  3. None

Obtaining dictionary keys and values

Dictionary keys, values, and both keys and values can be obtained using keys(), values(), and items() function calls, respectively. The return type of keys(), values(), and items() are dict_keys, dict_values, and dict_items, which can be converted to a list object using the list constructor list().

Example 10.1

String template formatting for course enrollment requests

A dictionary object with items {"a": 97, "b": 98, "c": 99} is created. Functions keys(), values(), and items() are called to obtain keys, values, and items in the dictionary, respectively. list() is also used to convert the output to a list object.

    dictionary_object = {"a": 97, "b": 98, "c": 99}

    print(dictionary_object.keys())
    print(list(dictionary_object.keys()))
    print(dictionary_object.values())
    print(dictionary_object.items())
    

The above code's output is:

    dict_keys(["a", "b", "c"])
    ["a", "b", "c"]
    dict_values([97, 98, 99])
    dict_items([("a", 97), ("b", 98), ("c", 99)])
    

Concepts in Practice

Dictionary keys and values

Given the dictionary numbers = {"one": 1, "two": 2, "three": 3}, answer the following questions.

4.
What is the output type of numbers.keys()?
  1. dict_keys
  2. dict_values
  3. list
5.
What is the output of print(numbers.values())?
  1. [1, 2, 3]
  2. dict_keys([1, 2, 3])
  3. dict_values([1, 2, 3])
6.
What is the output of print(list(numbers.keys()))?
  1. ["three", "two", "one"]
  2. ["one", "two", "three"]
  3. dict_keys(["one", "two", "three"])

Dictionary mutability

In Python, a dictionary is a mutable data type, which means that a dictionary's content can be modified after creation. Dictionary items can be added, updated, or deleted from a dictionary after a dictionary object is created.

To add an item to a dictionary, either the square bracket notation or update() function can be used.

  • Square bracket notation: When using square brackets to create a new key object and assign a value to the key, the new key-value pair will be added to the dictionary. my_dict = {"apple": 2, "banana": 3, "orange": 4} my_dict["pineapple"] = 1 print(my_dict) # Prints: {"apple": 2, "banana": 3, "orange": 4, "pineapple": 1}
  • update() method: the update() method can be called with additional key-value pairs to update the dictionary content. my_dict = {"apple": 2, "banana": 3, "orange": 4} my_dict.update({"pineapple": 1, "cherry": 0}) print(my_dict) # Prints: {"apple": 2, "banana": 3, "orange": 4, "pineapple": 1, "cherry": 0}

To modify a dictionary item, the two approaches above can be used on an existing dictionary key along with the updated value. Ex:

  • Square bracket notation: my_dict = {"apple": 2, "banana": 3, "orange": 4} my_dict["apple"] = 1 print(my_dict) # Prints: {"apple": 1, "banana": 3, "orange": 4}
  • update() method: my_dict = {"apple": 2, "banana": 3, "orange": 4} my_dict.update({"apple": 1}) print(my_dict) # Prints: {"apple": 1, "banana": 3, "orange": 4}

Items can be deleted from a dictionary using the del keyword or the pop() method.

  • del keyword: my_dict = {"apple": 2, "banana": 3, "orange": 4} del my_dict["orange"] print(my_dict) # Prints: {"apple": 2, "banana": 3}
  • pop() method: my_dict = {"apple": 2, "banana": 3, "orange": 4} deleted_value = my_dict.pop("banana") print(deleted_value) # Prints: 3 print(my_dict) # Output: {"apple": 2, "orange": 4}}

Checkpoint

Modifying dictionary items

Concepts in Practice

Modifying a dictionary

Given the dictionary food = {"Coconut soup": "$15", "Butter Chicken": "$18", "Kabob": "$20"}, answer the following questions.

7.
Which option modifies the value for the key "Coconut soup" to "$11" while keeping other items the same?
  1. food = {""Coconut soup": "$15""}
  2. food["Coconut soup"] = 11
  3. food["Coconut soup"] = "$11"
8.
Which option removes the item "Butter Chicken": "$18" from the food dictionary?
  1. food.remove("Butter Chicken")
  2. del food["Butter Chicken"]
  3. del food.del("Butter Chicken")
9.
What is the content of the food dictionary after calling food.update({"Kabob": "$22", "Sushi": "$16"})?
  1. {"Coconut soup": "$15", "Butter Chicken": "$18", "Kabob": "$22", "Sushi": "$16"}
  2. {"Coconut soup": "$15", "Butter Chicken": "$18", "Kabob": "$20", "Sushi": "$16"}
  3. { "Sushi": "$16", "Coconut soup": "$15", "Butter Chicken": "$18", "Kabob": "$20"}

Try It

Create a dictionary of cars step-by-step

Follow the steps below to create a dictionary of cars and modify it step-by-step.

  1. Create an empty dictionary.
  2. Add a key-value pair of "Mustang": 10.
  3. Add another key-value pair of "Volt": 3.
  4. Print the dictionary.
  5. Modify the value associated with key "Mustang" to be equal to 2.
  6. Delete key "Volt" and the associated value.
  7. Print the dictionary content.
    Prints {"Mustang": 2}
    

Try It

The number of unique characters

Given a string value, calculate and print the number of unique characters using a dictionary.

    Input:
    string_value = "This is a string"
    
    Prints 10
    
Citation/Attribution

This book may not be used in the training of large language models or otherwise be ingested into large language models or generative AI offerings without OpenStax's permission.

Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book uses the Creative Commons Attribution License and you must attribute OpenStax.

Attribution information
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a print format, then you must include on every physical page the following attribution:
    Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/introduction-python-programming/pages/1-introduction
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a digital format, then you must include on every digital page view the following attribution:
    Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/introduction-python-programming/pages/1-introduction
Citation information

© Feb 26, 2024 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License . The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.