Jean-Francois Gallant Jean-Francois Gallant - 2 months ago 5x
Python Question

Delete all objects in a list

I create many object then I store in a list. But I want to delete them after some time because I create news one and don't want my memory goes high (in my case, it jumps to 20 gigs of ram if I don't delete it).

Here is a little code to illustrate what I trying to do:

class test:
def __init__(self):
self.a = "Hello World"
def kill(self):
del self

a = test()
b = test()
c = [a,b]


for i in c:
del i

for i in c:


A and B are my objects. C is a list of these two objects. I'm trying to delete it definitely with a for-loop in C: one time with DEL and other time with a function. It's not seem to work because the print continue to show the objects.

I need this because I create 100 000 objects many times. The first time I create 100k object, the second time another 100k but I don't need to keep the previous 100k. If I don't delete them, the memory usage goes really high, very quickly.


cpython at least works on reference counting to determine when objects will be deleted. Here you have multiple references to the same objects. a refers to the same object that c[0] references. When you loop over c (for i in c:), at some point i also refers to that same object. the del keyword removes a single reference, so:

for i in c:
   del i

creates a reference to an object in c and then deletes that reference -- but the object still has other references (one stored in c for example) so it will persist.

In the same way:

def kill(self):
    del self

only deletes a reference to the object in that method. One way to remove all the references from a list is to use slice assignment:

mylist = list(range(10000))
mylist[:] = []
print (mylist)

Apparently you can also delete the slice to remove objects in place:

del mylist[:]  #This will implicitly call the `__delslice__` or `__delitem__` method.

This will remove all the references from mylist and also remove the references from anything that refers to mylist. Compared that to simply deleting the list -- e.g.

mylist = list(range(10000))
b = mylist
del mylist
#here we didn't get all the references to the objects we created ...
print b #[0, 1, 2, 3, 4, ...]