Fast sorting the list of objects by object's attribute using the "Schwartzian transform". Since this recipe uses _only_ builtins and doesn't use explicit looping, this is quite fast. Besides, it doesn't use any Python 2.0-specific features (such as zip() or list comprehensions) so can be used for Python 1.5.2/1.6 as well.
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def sort_by_attr(seq, attr): """Sort the sequence of objects by object's attribute Arguments: seq - the list or any sequence (including immutable one) of objects to sort. attr - the name of attribute to sort by Returns: the sorted list of objects. """ import operator # Use the "Schwartzian transform" # Create the auxiliary list of tuples where every i-th tuple has form # (seq[i].attr, i, seq[i]) and sort it. The second item of tuple is needed not # only to provide stable sorting, but mainly to eliminate comparison of objects # (which can be expensive or prohibited) in case of equal attribute values. intermed = map(None, map(getattr, seq, (attr,)*len(seq)), xrange(len(seq)), seq) intermed.sort() return map(operator.getitem, intermed, (-1,) * len(intermed)) def sort_by_attr_inplace(lst, attr): """Inplace sort the list of objects by object's attribute """ lst[:] = sort_by_attr(lst, attr)