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Effortlessly Sort Python Dictionary by Value


Sorting a Python Dictionary: Values, Keys, and More

Sorting a dictionary in Python can be a bit tricky if you’re not familiar with the proper techniques. In this tutorial, we will explore various methods and strategies for sorting dictionaries in Python. We will walk you through step-by-step examples with detailed explanations and provide you with executable sample codes.

Rediscovering Dictionary Order in Python

Before we dive into sorting dictionaries in Python, let’s first understand how dictionary order works. Prior to Python 3.6, dictionaries in Python were considered unordered. They were implemented as hash tables, which are traditionally unordered data structures.

However, starting from Python 3.6 and onwards, dictionaries in Python started to retain insertion order. With the introduction of the compact dictionary implementation, dictionaries began to preserve the order of elements during insertion. From Python 3.7, this preservation of order has been guaranteed.

Understanding What Sorting a Dictionary Really Means

When we talk about sorting a dictionary, it’s important to clarify what we actually mean. Dictionary sorting refers to arranging the key-value pairs of a dictionary based on certain criteria, such as sorting by values, keys, or even nested attributes.

Sorting Dictionaries in Python

In this section, we will explore various methods for sorting dictionaries in Python. Here are the topics we will cover:

Using the sorted() Function

The sorted() function in Python allows us to sort any iterable object, including dictionaries. We can pass the dictionary as an argument to the sorted() function and specify the desired criteria for sorting.

Getting Keys, Values, or Both From a Dictionary

Python dictionaries provide methods to extract keys, values, or both as views. These views can then be sorted using the techniques we will cover to achieve the desired sorting outcome.

Understanding How Python Sorts Tuples

When sorting dictionaries, Python relies on the logic for sorting tuples. This understanding is crucial for sorting based on certain criteria, like values or keys, as tuples can be used to represent the key-value pairs.

Using the key Parameter and Lambda Functions

The sorted() function in Python allows us to specify a key parameter, which is a function that determines the criteria for sorting. We can utilize lambda functions to create custom sorting rules based on our requirements.

Selecting a Nested Value With a Sort Key

Sometimes, we may want to sort a dictionary based on a specific nested attribute. We can achieve this by defining a sort key that selects the desired nested value from each key-value pair.

Converting Back to a Dictionary

After sorting a dictionary, we may need to convert it back to its original format. This section will cover techniques for converting sorted data back into a dictionary.

Considering Strategic and Performance Issues

Sorting dictionaries in Python can have strategic and performance implications. In this section, we will discuss the following topics:

Using Special Getter Functions to Increase Performance and Readability

In some cases, using special getter functions, such as operator.itemgetter(), can improve the performance and readability of our sorting code. We will explore how to utilize these functions effectively.

Measuring Performance When Using itemgetter()

To gauge the impact of using special getter functions, we will measure the performance of our sorting code when using operator.itemgetter() and compare it to other approaches.

Judging Whether You Want to Use a Sorted Dictionary

While sorting dictionaries can be useful in certain scenarios, it’s important to consider whether a sorted dictionary is truly the best option for your use case. We will discuss alternative data structures that might be more suitable for your specific needs.

Comparing the Performance of Different Data Structures

To make an informed decision about the data structure to use, we will compare the performance of different data structures, such as lists, sets, and dictionaries, in terms of sorting operations.

Comparing the Performance of Sorting

We will also compare the performance of different sorting techniques available in Python, such as using the sorted() function, lambda functions, and other approaches.

Comparing the Performance of Lookups

In addition to sorting, we will compare the performance of lookup operations on dictionaries and other data structures to understand the trade-offs involved.


Sorting dictionaries in Python can be achieved using various techniques and strategies. This tutorial has covered the step-by-step process of sorting dictionaries, along with detailed explanations and executable sample codes. We have also discussed strategic and performance considerations when it comes to sorting dictionaries.

By following this tutorial, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of how to effectively sort dictionaries in Python and be able to choose the most appropriate approach for your specific use cases.