Frerich Raabe Frerich Raabe - 10 months ago 23
Python Question

How can I partially sort a Python list?

I wrote a compiler cache for MSVC (much like ccache for gcc). One of the things I have to do is to remove the oldest object files in my cache directory to trim the cache to a user-defined size.

Right now, I basically have a list of tuples, each of which is the last access time and the file size:

# First tuple element is the access time, second tuple element is file size
items = [ (1, 42341),
(3, 22),
(0, 3234),
(2, 42342),
(4, 123) ]

Now I'd like to do a partial sort on this list so that the first N elements are sorted (where N is the number of elements so that the sum of their sizes exceeds 45000). The result should be basically this:

# Partially sorted list; only first two elements are sorted because the sum of
# their second field is larger than 45000.
items = [ (0, 3234),
(1, 42341),
(3, 22),
(2, 42342),
(4, 123) ]

I don't really care about the order of the unsorted entries, I just need the N oldest items in the list whose cumulative size exceeds a certain value.


You could use the heapq module. Call heapify() on the list, followed by heappop() until your condition is met. heapify() is linear and heappop() logarithmic, so it's likely as fast as you can get.

size = 0
while items and size < 45000:
  item = heapq.heappop(items)
  size += item[1]
  print item


(0, 3234)
(1, 42341)