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Definition

tuple

Contributor(s): Beverly Parks

1) In programming languages, such as Lisp, Python, Linda, and others, a tuple (pronounced TUH-pul) is an ordered set of values. The separator for each value is often a comma (depending on the rules of the particular language). Common uses for the tuple as a data type are (1) for passing a string of parameters from one program to another, and (2) representing a set of value attributes in a relational database. In some languages, tuples can be nested within other tuples within parentheses or brackets or other delimiters. Tuples can contain a mixture of other data types.

Here's an example of a tuple that emphasizes the different data types that may exist within a tuple data type:

17,*,2.49,Seven

The above example is sometimes referred to as a 4-tuple, since it contains four values. An n-tuple would be one with an indeterminate or unspecified number of values.

2) A tuple is analogous to a record in nonrelational databases.

The term originated as an abstraction of the sequence: single, double, triple, quadruple, quintuple, ... n-tuple. Tuple is used in abstract mathematics to denote a multidimensional coordinate system.

This was last updated in April 2005

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