user985366 user985366 - 1 month ago 6
Python Question

Python: is "Except keyerror" faster than "if key in dict"?

Edit 2: It was suggested that this is a copy of a similar question. I'd disagree since my question focuses on speed, while the other question asks what is more "readable" or "better" (without defining better). While the questions are similar, there is a big difference in the discussion/answers given.


EDIT:
I realise from the questions that I could have been clearer.
Sorry for code typos, yes it should be using the proper python operator for addition.

Regarding the input data, I just chose a list of random numbers since that's a common sample. In my case I'm using a dict where I expect a lot of keyerrors, probably 95% of the keys will not exist, and the few that exist will contain clusters of data.

I'm interested in a general discussion though, regardless of the input data set, but of course samples with running times are interesting.


My standard approach would be like so many other posts to write something like

list = (100 random numbers)
d = {}
for x in list:
if x in d:
d[x]+=1
else:
d[x]=1


But I just came to think of this being faster, since we dont have to check if the dictionary contains the key. We just assume it does, and if not, we handle that.
Is there any difference or is Python smarter than I am?

list = (100 random numbers)
d = {}
for x in list:
try:
d[x]+=1
except KeyError:
d[x] = 1


The same approach with indexes in an array, out of bounds, negative indexes etc.

Answer

Your claim is absolutely false depends on the input.

If you have a diverse set of keys, and hits the except block often, the performance is not good. If the try block is dominant the try/except idiom can be performant on smaller lists.

Here is a benchmark showing several ways to do the same thing:

from __future__ import print_function
import timeit
import random
import collections

def f1():
    d={}
    for x in tgt:
        if x in d:
            d[x]+=1
        else:
            d[x]=1
    return d

def f2():
    d = {}
    for x in tgt:
        try:
            d[x]+=1
        except KeyError:
            d[x] = 1    
    return d

def f3():
    d={}.fromkeys(tgt, 0)
    for x in tgt:
        d[x]+=1    
    return d    


def f4():
    d=collections.defaultdict(int)
    for x in tgt:
        d[x]+=1    
    return d    

def f5():
    return collections.Counter(tgt)        

def f6():
    d={}
    for x in tgt:
        d[x]=d.setdefault(x, 0)+1
    return d

def f7():
    d={}
    for x in tgt:
        d[x]=d.get(x,0)+1
    return d    

def cmpthese(funcs, c=10000, rate=True, micro=False):
    """Generate a Perl style function benchmark"""                   
    def pprint_table(table):
        """Perl style table output"""
        def format_field(field, fmt='{:,.0f}'):
            if type(field) is str: return field
            if type(field) is tuple: return field[1].format(field[0])
            return fmt.format(field)     

        def get_max_col_w(table, index):
            return max([len(format_field(row[index])) for row in table])         

        col_paddings=[get_max_col_w(table, i) for i in range(len(table[0]))]
        for i,row in enumerate(table):
            # left col
            row_tab=[row[0].ljust(col_paddings[0])]
            # rest of the cols
            row_tab+=[format_field(row[j]).rjust(col_paddings[j]) for j in range(1,len(row))]
            print(' '.join(row_tab))                

    results={k.__name__:timeit.Timer(k).timeit(c) for k in funcs}
    fastest=sorted(results,key=results.get, reverse=True)
    table=[['']]
    if rate: table[0].append('rate/sec')
    if micro: table[0].append('usec/pass')
    table[0].extend(fastest)
    for e in fastest:
        tmp=[e]
        if rate:
            tmp.append('{:,}'.format(int(round(float(c)/results[e]))))

        if micro:
            tmp.append('{:.3f}'.format(1000000*results[e]/float(c)))

        for x in fastest:
            if x==e: tmp.append('--')
            else: tmp.append('{:.1%}'.format((results[x]-results[e])/results[e]))
        table.append(tmp) 

    pprint_table(table)                    

if __name__=='__main__':
    import sys
    print(sys.version)
    for j in [100,1000]:
        for t in [(0,5), (0,50), (0,500)]:
            tgt=[random.randint(*t) for i in range(j)]
            print('{} rand ints between {}:'.format(j,t))
            print('=====')
            cmpthese([f1,f2,f3,f4,f5,f6,f7])
            print()

I have included a small benchmark function based on timeit that prints the functions from Slowest to Fastest with a percent difference between them.

Here is the results for Python 3:

3.4.1 (default, May 19 2014, 13:10:29) 
[GCC 4.2.1 Compatible Apple LLVM 5.1 (clang-503.0.40)]
100 rand ints between (0, 5):
=====
   rate/sec    f6    f7     f1     f2     f3     f4     f5
f6   52,756    -- -1.6% -26.2% -27.9% -30.7% -36.7% -46.8%
f7   53,624  1.6%    -- -25.0% -26.7% -29.6% -35.7% -46.0%
f1   71,491 35.5% 33.3%     --  -2.3%  -6.1% -14.2% -28.0%
f2   73,164 38.7% 36.4%   2.3%     --  -3.9% -12.2% -26.3%
f3   76,148 44.3% 42.0%   6.5%   4.1%     --  -8.7% -23.3%
f4   83,368 58.0% 55.5%  16.6%  13.9%   9.5%     -- -16.0%
f5   99,247 88.1% 85.1%  38.8%  35.6%  30.3%  19.0%     --

100 rand ints between (0, 50):
=====
   rate/sec     f2     f6     f7     f4     f3     f1     f5
f2   39,405     -- -17.9% -18.7% -19.1% -41.8% -47.8% -56.3%
f6   47,980  21.8%     --  -1.1%  -1.6% -29.1% -36.5% -46.8%
f7   48,491  23.1%   1.1%     --  -0.5% -28.4% -35.8% -46.2%
f4   48,737  23.7%   1.6%   0.5%     -- -28.0% -35.5% -46.0%
f3   67,678  71.7%  41.1%  39.6%  38.9%     -- -10.4% -24.9%
f1   75,511  91.6%  57.4%  55.7%  54.9%  11.6%     -- -16.3%
f5   90,175 128.8%  87.9%  86.0%  85.0%  33.2%  19.4%     --

100 rand ints between (0, 500):
=====
   rate/sec     f2     f4     f6     f7     f3     f1     f5
f2   25,748     -- -22.0% -41.4% -42.6% -57.5% -66.2% -67.8%
f4   32,996  28.1%     -- -24.9% -26.4% -45.6% -56.7% -58.8%
f6   43,930  70.6%  33.1%     --  -2.0% -27.5% -42.4% -45.1%
f7   44,823  74.1%  35.8%   2.0%     -- -26.1% -41.2% -44.0%
f3   60,624 135.5%  83.7%  38.0%  35.3%     -- -20.5% -24.2%
f1   76,244 196.1% 131.1%  73.6%  70.1%  25.8%     --  -4.7%
f5   80,026 210.8% 142.5%  82.2%  78.5%  32.0%   5.0%     --

1000 rand ints between (0, 5):
=====
   rate/sec     f7     f6     f1     f3     f2     f4     f5
f7    4,993     --  -6.7% -34.6% -39.4% -44.4% -50.1% -71.1%
f6    5,353   7.2%     -- -29.9% -35.0% -40.4% -46.5% -69.0%
f1    7,640  53.0%  42.7%     --  -7.3% -14.9% -23.6% -55.8%
f3    8,242  65.1%  54.0%   7.9%     --  -8.2% -17.6% -52.3%
f2    8,982  79.9%  67.8%  17.6%   9.0%     -- -10.2% -48.1%
f4   10,004 100.4%  86.9%  30.9%  21.4%  11.4%     -- -42.1%
f5   17,293 246.4% 223.0% 126.3% 109.8%  92.5%  72.9%     --

1000 rand ints between (0, 50):
=====
   rate/sec     f7     f6     f1     f2     f3     f4     f5
f7    5,051     --  -7.1% -26.5% -29.0% -34.1% -45.7% -71.2%
f6    5,435   7.6%     -- -20.9% -23.6% -29.1% -41.5% -69.0%
f1    6,873  36.1%  26.5%     --  -3.4% -10.3% -26.1% -60.8%
f2    7,118  40.9%  31.0%   3.6%     --  -7.1% -23.4% -59.4%
f3    7,661  51.7%  41.0%  11.5%   7.6%     -- -17.6% -56.3%
f4    9,297  84.0%  71.1%  35.3%  30.6%  21.3%     -- -47.0%
f5   17,531 247.1% 222.6% 155.1% 146.3% 128.8%  88.6%     --

1000 rand ints between (0, 500):
=====
   rate/sec     f2     f4     f6     f7     f3     f1     f5
f2    3,985     -- -11.0% -13.6% -14.8% -25.7% -40.4% -66.9%
f4    4,479  12.4%     --  -2.9%  -4.3% -16.5% -33.0% -62.8%
f6    4,613  15.8%   3.0%     --  -1.4% -14.0% -31.0% -61.6%
f7    4,680  17.4%   4.5%   1.4%     -- -12.7% -30.0% -61.1%
f3    5,361  34.5%  19.7%  16.2%  14.6%     -- -19.8% -55.4%
f1    6,683  67.7%  49.2%  44.9%  42.8%  24.6%     -- -44.4%
f5   12,028 201.8% 168.6% 160.7% 157.0% 124.3%  80.0%     --

And Python 2:

2.7.6 (default, Dec  1 2013, 13:26:15) 
[GCC 4.2.1 Compatible Apple LLVM 5.0 (clang-500.2.79)]
100 rand ints between (0, 5):
=====
   rate/sec     f5     f7     f6     f2     f1     f3     f4
f5   24,955     -- -41.8% -42.5% -51.3% -55.7% -61.6% -65.2%
f7   42,867  71.8%     --  -1.2% -16.4% -23.9% -34.0% -40.2%
f6   43,382  73.8%   1.2%     -- -15.4% -23.0% -33.2% -39.5%
f2   51,293 105.5%  19.7%  18.2%     --  -9.0% -21.0% -28.5%
f1   56,357 125.8%  31.5%  29.9%   9.9%     -- -13.2% -21.4%
f3   64,924 160.2%  51.5%  49.7%  26.6%  15.2%     --  -9.5%
f4   71,709 187.3%  67.3%  65.3%  39.8%  27.2%  10.5%     --

100 rand ints between (0, 50):
=====
   rate/sec     f2     f5     f7     f6     f4     f3     f1
f2   22,439     --  -4.7% -45.1% -45.5% -50.7% -63.3% -64.5%
f5   23,553   5.0%     -- -42.4% -42.8% -48.3% -61.5% -62.8%
f7   40,878  82.2%  73.6%     --  -0.7% -10.2% -33.2% -35.4%
f6   41,164  83.4%  74.8%   0.7%     --  -9.6% -32.7% -34.9%
f4   45,525 102.9%  93.3%  11.4%  10.6%     -- -25.6% -28.0%
f3   61,167 172.6% 159.7%  49.6%  48.6%  34.4%     --  -3.3%
f1   63,261 181.9% 168.6%  54.8%  53.7%  39.0%   3.4%     --

100 rand ints between (0, 500):
=====
   rate/sec     f2     f5     f4     f6     f7     f3     f1
f2   13,122     -- -39.9% -56.2% -63.2% -63.8% -75.8% -80.0%
f5   21,837  66.4%     -- -27.1% -38.7% -39.8% -59.6% -66.7%
f4   29,945 128.2%  37.1%     -- -16.0% -17.4% -44.7% -54.3%
f6   35,633 171.6%  63.2%  19.0%     --  -1.7% -34.2% -45.7%
f7   36,257 176.3%  66.0%  21.1%   1.8%     -- -33.0% -44.7%
f3   54,113 312.4% 147.8%  80.7%  51.9%  49.2%     -- -17.5%
f1   65,570 399.7% 200.3% 119.0%  84.0%  80.8%  21.2%     --

1000 rand ints between (0, 5):
=====
   rate/sec     f5     f7     f6     f1     f2     f3     f4
f5    2,787     -- -37.7% -38.4% -53.3% -59.9% -60.4% -67.0%
f7    4,477  60.6%     --  -1.1% -25.0% -35.6% -36.3% -47.0%
f6    4,524  62.3%   1.1%     -- -24.2% -34.9% -35.6% -46.5%
f1    5,972 114.3%  33.4%  32.0%     -- -14.1% -15.0% -29.3%
f2    6,953 149.5%  55.3%  53.7%  16.4%     --  -1.1% -17.7%
f3    7,030 152.2%  57.0%  55.4%  17.7%   1.1%     -- -16.8%
f4    8,452 203.3%  88.8%  86.8%  41.5%  21.6%  20.2%     --

1000 rand ints between (0, 50):
=====
   rate/sec     f5     f7     f6     f2     f1     f3     f4
f5    2,667     -- -37.8% -38.7% -53.0% -55.9% -61.1% -65.3%
f7    4,286  60.7%     --  -1.5% -24.5% -29.1% -37.5% -44.2%
f6    4,351  63.1%   1.5%     -- -23.4% -28.0% -36.6% -43.4%
f2    5,677 112.8%  32.4%  30.5%     --  -6.1% -17.3% -26.1%
f1    6,045 126.6%  41.0%  39.0%   6.5%     -- -11.9% -21.4%
f3    6,862 157.3%  60.1%  57.7%  20.9%  13.5%     -- -10.7%
f4    7,687 188.2%  79.3%  76.7%  35.4%  27.2%  12.0%     --

1000 rand ints between (0, 500):
=====
   rate/sec     f2     f5     f7     f6     f4     f3     f1
f2    2,018     -- -16.1% -44.1% -46.2% -53.4% -61.8% -63.0%
f5    2,405  19.1%     -- -33.4% -35.9% -44.5% -54.4% -55.9%
f7    3,609  78.8%  50.1%     --  -3.8% -16.7% -31.6% -33.8%
f6    3,753  85.9%  56.1%   4.0%     -- -13.4% -28.9% -31.2%
f4    4,334 114.7%  80.2%  20.1%  15.5%     -- -17.9% -20.5%
f3    5,277 161.5% 119.5%  46.2%  40.6%  21.8%     --  -3.2%
f1    5,454 170.2% 126.8%  51.1%  45.3%  25.8%   3.3%     --

So -- it depends.

Conclusions:

  1. The Counter method is almost always among the slowest
  2. The Counter method is among the slowest on Python 2 but by far the fastest on Python 3.4
  3. The try/except version is usually among the slowest
  4. The if key in dict version is predictably one of the best/fastest regardless of the size or key count
  5. The {}.fromkeys(tgt, 0) is very predictable
  6. The defaultdict version is fastest on larger lists. Smaller lists the longer setup time is amortized over too few elements.
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