Sphener Sphener - 1 month ago 6
Python Question

Copy a list of list by value and not reference

To understand why I was getting an error in a program , in which I tried to find the "minor" of a determinant, I wrote a simpler program because my variables were messed up. This function below takes in a 2 * 2 matrix as an input, and returns a list containing its rows (pointless and inefficient, I know, but I'm trying to understand the theory behind this).

def alpha(A): #where A will be a 2 * 2 matrix
B = A #the only purpose of B is to store the initial value of A, to retrieve it later
mylist = []
for i in range(2):
for j in range(2):
del A[i][j]
array.append(A)
A = B
return mylist


However, here it seems that B is assigned the value of A dynamically, in the sense that I'm not able to store the initial value of A in B to use it later. Why is that?

Answer

Because python passes lists by reference This means that when you write "b=a" you're saying that a and b are the same object, and that when you change b you change also a, and viceversa

A way to copy a list by value:

new_list = old_list[:]

If the list contains objects and you want to copy them as well, use generic copy.deepcopy():

import copy
new_list = copy.deepcopy(old_list)
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