How to create a dictionary from a line of text?

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Question :

How to create a dictionary from a line of text?

I have a generated file with thousands of lines like the following:


Some lines have more fields and others have fewer, but all follow the same pattern of key-value pairs and each line has a TSN field.

When doing some analysis on the file, I wrote a loop like the following to read the file into a dictionary:

#!/usr/bin/env python

from sys import argv

records = {}
for line in open(argv[1]):
    fields = line.strip().split(',')
    record = dict(zip(fields[::2], fields[1::2]))
    records[record['TSN']] = record

print 'Found %d records in the file.' % len(records)

…which is fine and does exactly what I want it to (the print is just a trivial example).

However, it doesn’t feel particularly “pythonic” to me and the line with:

dict(zip(fields[::2], fields[1::2]))

Which just feels “clunky” (how many times does it iterate over the fields?).

Is there a better way of doing this in Python 2.6 with just the standard modules to hand?

Answer #1:

In Python 2 you could use izip in the itertools module and the magic of generator objects to write your own function to simplify the creation of pairs of values for the dict records. I got the idea for pairwise() from a similarly named (but functionally different) recipe in the Python 2 itertools docs.

To use the approach in Python 3, you can just use plain zip() since it does what izip() did in Python 2 resulting in the latter’s removal from itertools — the example below addresses this and should work in both versions.

    from itertools import izip
except ImportError:  # Python 3
    izip = zip

def pairwise(iterable):
    "s -> (s0,s1), (s2,s3), (s4, s5), ..."
    a = iter(iterable)
    return izip(a, a)

Which can be used like this in your file reading for loop:

from sys import argv

records = {}
for line in open(argv[1]):
    fields = (field.strip() for field in line.split(','))  # generator expr
    record = dict(pairwise(fields))
    records[record['TSN']] = record

print('Found %d records in the file.' % len(records))

But wait, there’s more!

It’s possible to create a generalized version I’ll call grouper(), which again corresponds to a similarly named, but functionally different itertools recipe (which is listed right below pairwise()):

def grouper(n, iterable):
    "s -> (s0,s1,, (sn,sn+1,...s2n-1), (s2n,s2n+1,...s3n-1), ..."
    return izip(*[iter(iterable)]*n)

Which could be used like this in your for loop:

    record = dict(grouper(2, fields))

Of course, for specific cases like this, it’s easy to use functools.partial() and create a similar pairwise() function with it (which will work in both Python 2 & 3):

import functools
pairwise = functools.partial(grouper, 2)


Unless there’s a really huge number of fields, you could instead create a actual sequence out of the pairs of line items (rather than using a generator expression which has no len()):

fields = tuple(field.strip() for field in line.split(','))

The advantage being that it would allow the grouping to be done using simple slicing:

except NameError:  # Python 3
    xrange = range

def grouper(n, sequence):
    for i in xrange(0, len(sequence), n):
        yield sequence[i:i+n]

pairwise = functools.partial(grouper, 2)
Answered By: martineau

Answer #2:

Not so much better as just more efficient…

Full explanation

Answer #3:

import itertools

def grouper(n, iterable, fillvalue=None):
    "grouper(3, 'ABCDEFG', 'x') --> ABC DEF Gxx"
    args = [iter(iterable)] * n
    return itertools.izip_longest(fillvalue=fillvalue, *args)

record = dict(grouper(2, line.strip().split(","))


Answered By: robert

Answer #4:

If we’re going to abstract it into a function anyway, it’s not too hard to write “from scratch”:

def pairs(iterable):
    iterator = iter(iterable)
    while True:
        try: yield (,
        except: return

robert’s recipe version definitely wins points for flexibility, though.

Answered By: Karl Knechtel

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