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! Dict make a dictionary key key list group group list by values value value list

Lists and dictionaries

A list is a mapping from its indexes to its items: v:1040 59 27 maps

0 -> 1040
1 -> 59
2 -> 27

A dictionary is a mapping from a list of keys to a list of values.

q)show d:`tom`dick`harry!1040 59 27
tom  | 1040
dick | 59
harry| 27

The indexes of v are 0 1 2. The indexes of d are `tom`dick`harry.

The values of v and d are the same.

q)value d
1040 59 27
q)value `v
1040 59 27


Use Dict to make a dictionary from a list of keys and a list of values.

q)show d:`a`b`c!1 2 3
a| 1
b| 2
c| 3

The lists must be the same length. The keys should be unique (no duplicates) but no error is signalled if duplicates are present.

Avoid duplicating keys in a dictionary or (column names in a) table.

Q does not reject duplicate keys, but operations on dictionaries and tables with duplicate keys are undefined.

If you know the keys are unique you can set the u attribute on them.

(`u#`a`b`c)!100 200 300

The dictionary will then function as a hash table – and indexing will be faster.

Set Attribute

Items of the key and value lists can be of any datatype, including dictionaries or tables.

Keys and values

q)key d
q)value d
1 2 3

Keywords key and value return the key and value lists respectively.


A dictionary is a mapping from its key items to its value items.

A list is a mapping from its indexes to its items. If the indexes of a list are its keys, it is unsurprising to find a dictionary is indexed by its keys.

q)v:10 20 30 40 50
q)show dic:k!v
a| 10
b| 20
c| 30
d| 40
e| 50

40 20
q)v[3 1]
40 20

Nor that we can omit index brackets the same way.

q)dic `d`b
40 20
q)v 3 1
40 20

Indexing out of the domain works as for lists, returning a null of the same type as the first value item.

q)v 5
q)dic `x

But unlike a list, indexed assignment to a dictionary has upsert semantics.

q)v[5 1]:42 100
  [0]  v[5 1]:42 100
q)dic[`x`b]:42 100
a| 10
b| 100
c| 30
d| 40
e| 50
x| 42

Dictionary indexing uses Find to search the keys.

q)d[x] ~ v[k?x]

where and Find

Find and where both return indexes from lists. Also from dictionaries.

q)d:`a`b`c`d!10 20 30 10

q)where d=10


Reverse dictionary lookup: use Find for the key of the first matching value, or where for all of them.


q)dns `apple


q)where dns=`$""


Dictionaries are ordered.

q)first dic
q)last dic

q)v:1 2 3
q)(k!v) ~ reverse[k]!reverse v

Taking and dropping from a dictionary

Dictionaries are ordered, so you can take and drop items from either end of them.

a| 10
b| 20
c| 30
d| 10

c| 30
d| 10

q)-1 _ d
a| 10
b| 20
c| 30

You can also take and drop selected items.

b| 20
d| 10

q)`b`x _ d
a| 10
c| 30
d| 10

Joining dictionaries

Join on dictionaries has upsert semantics.

q)(`a`b`c!10 20 30),`c`d!400 500
a| 10
b| 20
c| 400
d| 500

Empty and singleton dictionaries

Just like a list, a dictionary may be empty or have a single item. But its key and value must still be lists.

q)()!()                     / general empty dictionary
q)(`symbol$())!`float$()    / typed empty dictionary

q)sd:(enlist `a)!enlist 1   / singleton dictionary
a| 1
q)key sd
q)value sd

Column dictionaries

When a dictionary’s value items are all same-length lists, it is a column dictionary.

q)show bd:`name`dob`sex!(`jack`jill`john;1982.09.15 1984.07.05 1990.11.16;`m`f`m)
name| jack       jill       john
dob | 1982.09.15 1984.07.05 1990.11.16
sex | m          f          m

Flip it and we see a table.

q)flip bd
name dob        sex
jack 1982.09.15 m
jill 1984.07.05 f
john 1990.11.16 m

Step dictionaries
Q for Mortals §5. Dictionaries,