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Nov 06, 2023 2 mins

Get Values by Key in Python Nested Dictionary

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Python is known for its simplicity and readability, provides powerful data structures like dictionaries that allow nested structures. When dealing with complex nested dictionaries, it becomes essential to efficiently retrieve values based on specific keys. In this article, we'll explore a Python code snippet that does just that and dive into the function that makes it possible.

Let’s begin by examining the nested dictionary in the code.

nested_dict = {
    'person1': {
        'name': 'Alice',
        'age': 30,
        'hobbies': ['reading', 'traveling', 'painting'],
        'addresses': [
            {
            'city': 'Wonderland',
            'street': '123 Dream Lane',
            'zipcode': '56789'
            }
        ]
    }
}

This nested dictionary represents information about a person named Alice, including her name, age, hobbies, and addresses. The addresses are further nested within a list, showcasing the complexity that often arises in real-world data structures.

Now, let’s focus on the function get_value_for_key:

def get_value_for_key(json_obj, target_key):
    if isinstance(json_obj, dict):
        if target_key in json_obj:
            return json_obj[target_key], True
        for value in json_obj.values():
            result, found = get_value_for_key(value, target_key)
            if found:
                return result, True
    elif isinstance(json_obj, list):
        for item in json_obj:
            result, found = get_value_for_key(item, target_key)
            if found:
                return result, True
    return None, False

result, is_available = get_value_for_key(nested_dict, "zipcode")
print(result, is_available)

The get_value_for_key Function

  1. Function Parameters:
    - json_obj: Represents the JSON-like object, which can be a dictionary or a list.
    - target_key: The key for which we want to find the corresponding value.

  2. Base Cases:
    - The function checks if the json_obj is a dictionary and if the target_key exists in it. If so, it returns the corresponding value and True.

  3. Recursion on Dictionaries:
    - If the json_obj is a dictionary and the key is not found, the function recursively searches through the values of the dictionary.
    - This recursive exploration continues until the target key is found, at which point the result and True are returned.

  4. Recursion on Lists:
    - If the json_obj is a list, the function iterates through each item in the list and recursively searches for the target key.
    - Again, if the key is found, the result and True are returned.

  5. Handling Unsuccessful Searches:
    - If the function completes its search without finding the target key, it returns None and False.

Example Usage

The code concludes with an example usage of the function.

result, is_available = get_value_for_key(nested_dict, "zipcode")
print(result, is_available)

This snippet demonstrates how to use the get_value_for_key function to retrieve the value corresponding to the key “zipcode” within the nested dictionary. The result is printed, along with a boolean indicating whether the key was found (True) or not (False).

In this case, the output would be '56789 True', indicating that the zipcode ‘56789’ was successfully retrieved, and the key was found in the nested structure.

Conclusion

In summary, this Python code provides a versatile and recursive approach to navigate through nested dictionaries and lists, allowing users to efficiently retrieve values based on specific keys. Understanding such techniques is crucial when working with complex data structures commonly encountered in real-world applications.


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  • python dict
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