Python – How to sort a dictionary by value

dictionarypythonsorting

I have a dictionary of values read from two fields in a database: a string field and a numeric field. The string field is unique, so that is the key of the dictionary.

I can sort on the keys, but how can I sort based on the values?

Note: I have read Stack Overflow question here How do I sort a list of dictionaries by a value of the dictionary? and probably could change my code to have a list of dictionaries, but since I do not really need a list of dictionaries I wanted to know if there is a simpler solution to sort either in ascending or descending order.

Best Solution

Python 3.7+ or CPython 3.6

Dicts preserve insertion order in Python 3.7+. Same in CPython 3.6, but it's an implementation detail.

>>> x = {1: 2, 3: 4, 4: 3, 2: 1, 0: 0}
>>> {k: v for k, v in sorted(x.items(), key=lambda item: item[1])}
{0: 0, 2: 1, 1: 2, 4: 3, 3: 4}

or

>>> dict(sorted(x.items(), key=lambda item: item[1]))
{0: 0, 2: 1, 1: 2, 4: 3, 3: 4}

Older Python

It is not possible to sort a dictionary, only to get a representation of a dictionary that is sorted. Dictionaries are inherently orderless, but other types, such as lists and tuples, are not. So you need an ordered data type to represent sorted values, which will be a list—probably a list of tuples.

For instance,

import operator
x = {1: 2, 3: 4, 4: 3, 2: 1, 0: 0}
sorted_x = sorted(x.items(), key=operator.itemgetter(1))

sorted_x will be a list of tuples sorted by the second element in each tuple. dict(sorted_x) == x.

And for those wishing to sort on keys instead of values:

import operator
x = {1: 2, 3: 4, 4: 3, 2: 1, 0: 0}
sorted_x = sorted(x.items(), key=operator.itemgetter(0))

In Python3 since unpacking is not allowed we can use

x = {1: 2, 3: 4, 4: 3, 2: 1, 0: 0}
sorted_x = sorted(x.items(), key=lambda kv: kv[1])

If you want the output as a dict, you can use collections.OrderedDict:

import collections

sorted_dict = collections.OrderedDict(sorted_x)