Python – Calculate difference in keys contained in two Python dictionaries


Suppose I have two Python dictionaries – dictA and dictB. I need to find out if there are any keys which are present in dictB but not in dictA. What is the fastest way to go about it?

Should I convert the dictionary keys into a set and then go about?

Interested in knowing your thoughts…

Thanks for your responses.

Apologies for not stating my question properly.
My scenario is like this – I have a dictA which can be the same as dictB or may have some keys missing as compared to dictB or else the value of some keys might be different which has to be set to that of dictA key's value.

Problem is the dictionary has no standard and can have values which can be dict of dict.


dictA={'key1':a, 'key2':b, 'key3':{'key11':cc, 'key12':dd}, 'key4':{'key111':{....}}}
dictB={'key1':a, 'key2:':newb, 'key3':{'key11':cc, 'key12':newdd, 'key13':ee}.......

So 'key2' value has to be reset to the new value and 'key13' has to be added inside the dict.
The key value does not have a fixed format. It can be a simple value or a dict or a dict of dict.

Best Solution

You can use set operations on the keys:

diff = set(dictb.keys()) - set(dicta.keys())

Here is a class to find all the possibilities: what was added, what was removed, which key-value pairs are the same, and which key-value pairs are changed.

class DictDiffer(object):
    Calculate the difference between two dictionaries as:
    (1) items added
    (2) items removed
    (3) keys same in both but changed values
    (4) keys same in both and unchanged values
    def __init__(self, current_dict, past_dict):
        self.current_dict, self.past_dict = current_dict, past_dict
        self.set_current, self.set_past = set(current_dict.keys()), set(past_dict.keys())
        self.intersect = self.set_current.intersection(self.set_past)
    def added(self):
        return self.set_current - self.intersect 
    def removed(self):
        return self.set_past - self.intersect 
    def changed(self):
        return set(o for o in self.intersect if self.past_dict[o] != self.current_dict[o])
    def unchanged(self):
        return set(o for o in self.intersect if self.past_dict[o] == self.current_dict[o])

Here is some sample output:

>>> a = {'a': 1, 'b': 1, 'c': 0}
>>> b = {'a': 1, 'b': 2, 'd': 0}
>>> d = DictDiffer(b, a)
>>> print "Added:", d.added()
Added: set(['d'])
>>> print "Removed:", d.removed()
Removed: set(['c'])
>>> print "Changed:", d.changed()
Changed: set(['b'])
>>> print "Unchanged:", d.unchanged()
Unchanged: set(['a'])

Available as a github repo: