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Exploring sorting and its parameters in Python

Being able to sort data is a very important skill for developers to know. We will be going over the sort() and sorted() methods for Python as well as the parameters like key = lambda different ways to sort.

The main methods for sorting in Python would be sort() and sorted(). They function very similarly but have a couple of key differences. sort() is destructive as it takes the provided list and sorts it, while sorted() creates a copy of the list and sorts it. Additionally, sort() does not return a value, as it simply applies a change to an existing list, but sorted() will return a list after creating the sorted copy. One more difference that I will go over is in how you use the functions. The syntax for sort() is using dot notation, such as list.sort(key = None, reverse = False). The key is an optional criteria that can specify how one would like to sort the list, such as having a list of strings and using key = len to sort by length of the string, and reverse lets the list sort in either ascending or descending order. sorted() is written similarly, but with the iterated list being contained within the function like so: sorted(list, key = None, reverse = False).

It was briefly mentioned with key = len, but the key is used to specify the method for which the list is being sorted. When working with dictionaries, there will be multiple key-value pairs, which can make it tough to sort it in a specific way. This makes key = lambda is a very important concept to understand. The key = lambda parameter allows specification of the element being sorted. Additionally, this parameter can be used to apply an anonymous function to a list as it is being sorted.

In this example using a dictionary, key=lambda is used to sort between the first element, the names, and the second element, the test score numbers. By specifying which one to use, users can sort by either element.

In conclusion, understanding how to use sort() and sorted() in Python, along with the key parameter and lambda expressions, empowers developers to sort data effectively. By making the most out of these tools, you can efficiently organize lists and handle more complex sorting scenarios with dictionaries. Sorting is an essential skill to have in your programming toolkit, enabling you to manipulate and analyze data in various applications.

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