Adventures in Machine Learning

Python Memory Management: Variables Data Types and Memory Leaks

Variables and Data Types in Python

Python is a widely used programming language with an increasing number of enthusiasts worldwide. It is free, open-source, and easy to learn.

Python is also known for its clear syntax, making it an ideal language for beginners. One of the language’s fundamental concepts is variables and data types.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into these essential topics and discover what they mean and how they function in Python. What are Variables?

Variables are named memory blocks or placeholders where you can store values that can change during the execution of your program. Variables are important because they enable you to reuse the same values over and over again without having to hardcode them into your programs.

For instance, you may have to save your age in different places in your code. Instead of typing in your age every time, you can assign your age to a variable and use the variable’s value in your code instead.

This way, if your age changes, you only need to change the value of the variable instead of adjusting every instance of your age in the code. What are Data Types?

Programming languages have constraints or domains on what objects can and cannot be manipulated. Python has specific data types that determine the nature of the data you can work with in your program.

Every variable you create in Python has a data type attached to it. Data types allow you to store specific types of data, and they specify the operations that can be performed on the data.

The primary data types in Python are float, integer, and character. Each of these data types has its own domain and constraints.

The int data type, for instance, deals with whole numbers, both positive and negative. Float data types deal with decimal numbers, and char data types deal with strings of letters, numbers, and symbols.

In Python, an empty string is a valid char type.

Memory Size of Basic Data Types in Python

When working with Python, it’s essential to pay close attention to memory usage, as it can impact the speed of your program. The memory size reserved for a variable is determined by the data type that is assigned to it.

You can use the getsizeof() function to determine the memory size of data types in Python.

Memory size of Integer Variables

One of the most commonly used data types in Python is the int. An integer variable is used to store whole numbers, ranging from -2147483648 to 2147483647.

The getsizeof() function can be used to find out the memory size of an int variable. In Python, int variables have a size of 28 bytes.

However, this size can change depending on the bits of the integer. If, for example, an integer has a value greater than 127, it is stored in 4 bytes.

Otherwise, it is stored in 2 bytes.

Memory size of Float Variables

Float variables deal with decimal numbers. They have a range of approximately 1.7 10308 to 1.7 10^308.

The memory size reserved for a float variable is 24 bytes. This is because float variables occupy 8 bytes, and Python stores a float variable as a pair of a base number and an exponent.

This enables them to occupy less space in memory.

Memory size of String Variables

String variables are used to manipulate text data in Python. A string in Python can be empty, a single character, or a sequence of characters.

The memory size of a string variable in Python depends on the length of the string. For instance, a string with no characters takes up 49 bytes.

A string with a single character takes up 50 bytes, while a string with two characters takes up 51 bytes. The memory size of a string variable increases by 4 bytes for every extra character.


In conclusion, variables and data types are essential elements in programming, and understanding their operation is key to writing efficient and effective code in Python. With this article, you should be able to understand what variables are and how to use them in your Python scripts.

Additionally, you should now have an idea of the different data types available in Python and how your program’s memory usage is impacted by the data types you use. With this knowledge, you can now write more optimized Python code that saves you memory and runs faster.

Memory Size of Complex Data Structures in Python

In Python, complex data structures enable you to store and manipulate large sets of data more efficiently. Unlike simple data types like integers and strings, data structures like lists, tuples, sets, and dictionaries store collections of related items.

However, with these more complex data structures, you must pay close attention to memory usage as they can consume a lot of system memory. In this article’s expansion, we will explore the memory size of complex data structures in Python and how you can check their total memory usage.

Memory Size of Lists

A list is a collection of items in a specific order. You can store a wide range of items in a list, including strings, integers, and other lists.

To calculate the memory used by a list object, you can use the getsizeof() function. The memory usage of a list is influenced by the length of the list and the type of items held within.

For instance, an empty list in Python has a size of 56 bytes. However, when you add an element to the list, the size of the list increases by 32 bytes.

Therefore, the size of a list in memory can quickly grow as you add more elements.

Memory Size of Tuples

A tuple is a collection of items that cannot be changed once created. The elements in a tuple can be of any data type, such as integers, floats, strings, etc.

Like the list type, you can use the getsizeof() function to find the size of the tuple in memory. On average, an empty tuple consumes 40 bytes.

Moreover, a tuple holding another element increases the memory usage by 8 bytes. As a result, tuples tend to consume less memory than lists containing an equal number of elements.

Memory Size of Sets

The set type is an unordered collection of unique items. In Python, sets are mutable, meaning you can add and remove elements from them.

Sets are ideal when dealing with data that does not need to be in any particular order. To calculate the memory usage of a set object, you can use the same getsizeof() function.

However, the memory usage of a set can be slightly more complicated to determine since sets use hash tables. An empty set in Python has a memory consumption of 216 bytes.

After adding an element to the set, the memory usage can increase to 512 bytes.

Memory Size of Dictionaries

A dictionary is a collection of key-value pairs. Like sets, dictionaries use hash tables to store the data.

In Python, dictionaries are mutable, meaning you can add and remove elements from them. To determine the memory usage of a dictionary object, you can use the same getsizeof() function.

An empty dictionary in Python has a memory consumption of 232 bytes. The size of a dictionary’s memory can increase by 128 bytes per item added to the dictionary.

Checking Total Memory Usage with deep_getsizeof()

In some scenarios, you may want to estimate the total amount of memory consumed by a data structure, including its sub-objects. The Python interpreter provides us with a helper function, deep_getsizeof(), that recursively scans the elements within a data structure and returns the total memory usage.

The deep_getsizeof() function retrieves the size in bytes of a Python object. You can import the function by importing the sys module.

Function Definition


import sys

def deep_getsizeof(o, ids):

if id(o) in ids:

return 0

r = sys.getsizeof(o)


if isinstance(o, str) or isinstance(0, bytes) or isinstance(o, tuple) or isinstance(o, list):

for x in o:

r += deep_getsizeof(x, ids)

elif isinstance(o, dict):

for x in o.values():

r += deep_getsizeof(x, ids)

return r


Application of deep_getsizeof() Function to List

Let’s take an example of a list containing other lists and see how much space it consumes using the deep_getsizeof() function. We’ll create a list containing nested lists, with each nested list having ten elements of different data types.


list_example = [

[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10],

[‘a’, ‘b’, ‘c’, ‘d’, ‘e’, ‘f’, ‘g’, ‘h’, ‘i’, ‘j’],

[True, False, True, False, True, False, True, False, True, False]


space_consumed = deep_getsizeof(list_example, set())

print(“Space consumed by List example: “, space_consumed, “bytes”)

print(“Size of list example using getsizeof(): “, sys.getsizeof(list_example), “bytes”)


If we run the code, we can see that the list example consumes about 80 bytes in memory, while the getsizeof() function reports a memory consumption of 250 bytes. The deep_getsizeof() function is useful when we need to inspect the memory usage of complex data structures in Python that contain more than just the top-level object.

In conclusion, Python developers should be mindful of the memory consumption of the data structures they use in their programs. By understanding how much memory a data structure consumes, we can make informed decisions to optimize our code for better performance.

Using the deep_getsize() function allows us to estimate the total memory consumption of a data structure that contains sub-objects.

Memory Leaks in Python

In programming, memory leaks occur when a program does not release unneeded memory, resulting in a continuous increase in memory usage. This can lead to the program consuming more and more system memory over time until there is little or no memory left, resulting in the program crashing.

Memory leaks can be a significant problem for long-running programs and may result in degraded program performance, increased resource consumption, and even program failures. In this article’s expansion, we will explore the concept of memory leaks in Python and how tracemalloc can be used to detect memory leaks.

Defining Memory Leaks

In Python, memory leaks occur when memory is allocated but never released. Every time we request memory from the system, the interpreter carves out a piece of memory and stores our program’s data.

However, freeing this space once we no longer need it is just as important as obtaining it. Memory leaks occur when we fail to release memory we no longer need, making it unavailable to store other data.

Usage of the tracemalloc Module

To check for memory leakage, Python provides us with the tracemalloc module. It is a module that we can use to track the memory allocation done by our Python program.

By using the tracemalloc module, we can keep track of the memory usage of our program interactively. The tracemalloc module allows us to see the memory usage over time for specific lines of code.

To use the tracemalloc module, we need to import it at the beginning of our code:


import tracemalloc

# Start tracing memory allocation



After importing the tracemalloc module, we can start tracking memory allocation by calling the start() function. We can then use the get_traced_memory() function to retrieve the peak memory consumed by Python at specified lines of code.

After we complete our analysis, we can stop the memory allocation tracing using the stop() function. “`python

# Stop memory allocation tracing


# Output maximum memory usage

print(“Maximum memory usage: {}B”.format(tracemalloc.get_traced_memory()[1]))


Importance of Freeing Up Memory Space

It’s essential to free memory space in our Python program to avoid memory leakage and improve performance. The most common way to free memory space is by using the “del” keyword.

When you use the del keyword on a reference, a reference to the underlying object is removed, and the reference count of the object is decremented. If the reference count of an object reaches zero, then its memory can be freed.

Another way of freeing up memory is by using context managers. The contextlib module provides a compact way to define and use contexts in Python.

A context is a CPython object that contains data that needs to be cleaned up or reset when leaving the context. The contextlib module provides us with the contextmanager() decorator, which allows us to create a function that enters and exits a context and returns a generator object that manages the execution of the with-statement code block.


import contextlib

class MyObject:

def __init__(self):

self.numbers = list(range(100000))


def my_context():

obj = MyObject()

yield obj

del obj.numbers


In the example above, we used context managers to remove objects within the context that are unlikely to be used again. By removing objects that are no longer needed, you can save a considerable amount of memory.

In conclusion, memory leaks can be a programming pitfall that can lead to degraded program performance, increased resource consumption, and program failures. However, by using tools such as tracemalloc and del keyword, we can prevent memory leaks and improve our program’s performance.

Additionally, using context managers can help free up memory space and make our program more efficient. By paying attention to memory consumption, Python developers can create more efficient programs that run faster and consume fewer system resources.

In conclusion, memory management is an essential part of programming in Python. We explored how the use of variables and data types affects memory consumption, and the importance of understanding how complex data structures like lists, tuples, sets, and dictionaries can also impact memory usage.

We also learned about the tracemalloc module and how it can be used to detect memory leaks, the cause of degraded program performance, increased resource consumption, and even program failure. Additionally, we discussed the significance of freeing up memory space when no longer in use.

It is essential to pay attention to memory consumption to optimize program performance and prevent memory leaks. By implementing the best practices outlined in this article, Python developers can create more efficient programs that consume fewer system resources, reduce memory utilization, and run faster.