Fix Python – Is python’s sorted() function guaranteed to be stable?


Asked By – Sundar R

The documentation doesn’t guarantee that. Is there any other place that it is documented?

I’m guessing it might be stable since the sort method on lists is guaranteed to be stable (Notes 9th point: “Starting with Python 2.3, the sort() method is guaranteed to be stable”), and sorted is functionally similar. However, I’m not able to find any definitive source that says so.

Purpose: I need to sort based on a primary key and also a secondary key in cases where the primary key is equal in both records. If sorted() is guaranteed to be stable, I can sort on the secondary key, then sort on the primary key and get the result I need.

PS: To avoid any confusion, I’m using stable in the sense of “a sort is stable if it guarantees not to change the relative order of elements that compare equal”.

Now we will see solution for issue: Is python’s sorted() function guaranteed to be stable?


Yes, the intention of the manual is indeed to guarantee that sorted is stable and indeed that it uses exactly the same algorithm as the sort method. I do realize that the docs aren’t 100% clear about this identity; doc patches are always happily accepted!

This question is answered By – Alex Martelli

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