Immutable element in tuple


I found a surprising fact today in this SO post: tuple in Python turns out to be able to contain mutable objects (I was expecting that they cannot).

Such tuples are not hashable, because being hashable requires being recursively hashable and immutable. Therefore they cannot be used as key of dict.

In [34]: a_tuple=({},)              # No problem

In [35]: a_tuple
Out[35]: ({},)

In [36]: a_dict={ a_tuple: True }   # TypeError: unhashable type: 'dict'


The same question was inquired in this post.

TL;DR of the direct answer: such tuples maintains to be immutable because what it contains is reference, and reference to a particular object is not mutable.

So, immutability here means the tuple’s shallow self won’t be changing.

Long answer from python doc:

Immutable sequences (Strings, Tuples, Bytes)

An object of an immutable sequence type cannot change once it is created. (If the object contains references to other objects, these other objects may be mutable and may be changed; however, the collection of objects directly referenced by an immutable object cannot change.)

Mutable sequences (Strings, Tuples, Bytes)

Mutable sequences can be changed after they are created. The subscription and slicing notations can be used as the target of assignment and del (delete) statements.


Immutability in C# Part One: Kinds of Immutability introduces more kinds of mutability.