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Shallow And Deep Copying

Praveen Choudhary
19/02/2018 0 0

The difference between shallow and deep copying is only relevant for compound objects (objects that contain other objects, like lists or class instances):

A shallow copy constructs a new compound object and then (to the extent possible) inserts references into it to the objects found in the original.

A deep copy constructs a new compound object and then, recursively, inserts copies into it of the objects found in the original.

Here's a little demonstration:

import copy

a = [1, 2, 3]
b = [4, 5, 6]
c = [a, b]

Using normal assignment operatings to copy:

d = c

print id(c) == id(d) # True - d is the same object as c
print id(c[0]) == id(d[0]) # True - d[0] is the same object as c[0]
Using a shallow copy:

d = copy.copy(c)

print id(c) == id(d) # False - d is now a new object
print id(c[0]) == id(d[0]) # True - d[0] is the same object as c[0]
Using a deep copy:

d = copy.deepcopy(c)

print id(c) == id(d) # False - d is now a new object
print id(c[0]) == id(d[0]) # False - d[0] is now a new object.

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