pypy / pypy / doc / cpython_differences.rst

Differences between PyPy and CPython

This page documents the few differences and incompatibilities between the PyPy Python interpreter and CPython. Some of these differences are "by design", since we think that there are cases in which the behaviour of CPython is buggy, and we do not want to copy bugs.

Differences that are not listed here should be considered bugs of PyPy.

Extension modules

List of extension modules that we support:

  • Supported as built-in modules (in `pypy/module/`_):

    __builtin__ __pypy__ _ast _bisect _codecs _collections _ffi _hashlib _io _locale _lsprof _md5 _minimal_curses _multiprocessing _random _rawffi _sha _socket _sre _ssl _warnings _weakref _winreg array binascii bz2 cStringIO clr cmath cpyext crypt errno exceptions fcntl gc imp itertools marshal math mmap operator oracle parser posix pyexpat select signal struct symbol sys termios thread time token unicodedata zipimport zlib

    When translated to Java or .NET, the list is smaller; see `pypy/config/`_ for details.

    When translated on Windows, a few Unix-only modules are skipped, and the following module is built instead:


    Extra module with Stackless only:


  • Supported by being rewritten in pure Python (possibly using ctypes): see the `lib_pypy/`_ directory. Examples of modules that we support this way: ctypes, cPickle, cmath, dbm, datetime... Note that some modules are both in there and in the list above; by default, the built-in module is used (but can be disabled at translation time).

The extension modules (i.e. modules written in C, in the standard CPython) that are neither mentioned above nor in `lib_pypy/`_ are not available in PyPy. (You may have a chance to use them anyway with cpyext.)

Subclasses of built-in types

Officially, CPython has no rule at all for when exactly overridden method of subclasses of built-in types get implicitly called or not. As an approximation, these methods are never called by other built-in methods of the same object. For example, an overridden __getitem__() in a subclass of dict will not be called by e.g. the built-in get() method.

The above is true both in CPython and in PyPy. Differences can occur about whether a built-in function or method will call an overridden method of another object than self. In PyPy, they are generally always called, whereas not in CPython. For example, in PyPy, dict1.update(dict2) considers that dict2 is just a general mapping object, and will thus call overridden keys() and __getitem__() methods on it. So the following code prints 42 on PyPy but foo on CPython:

>>>> class D(dict):
....     def __getitem__(self, key):
....         return 42
>>>> d1 = {}
>>>> d2 = D(a='foo')
>>>> d1.update(d2)
>>>> print d1['a']

Ignored exceptions

In many corner cases, CPython can silently swallow exceptions. The precise list of when this occurs is rather long, even though most cases are very uncommon. The most well-known places are custom rich comparison methods (like __eq__); dictionary lookup; calls to some built-in functions like isinstance().

Unless this behavior is clearly present by design and documented as such (as e.g. for hasattr()), in most cases PyPy lets the exception propagate instead.


  • sys.setrecursionlimit() is ignored (and not needed) on PyPy. On CPython it would set the maximum number of nested calls that can occur before a RuntimeError is raised; on PyPy overflowing the stack also causes RuntimeErrors, but the limit is checked at a lower level. (The limit is currently hard-coded at 768 KB, corresponding to roughly 1480 Python calls on Linux.)
  • assignment to __class__ is limited to the cases where it works on CPython 2.5. On CPython 2.6 and 2.7 it works in a bit more cases, which are not supported by PyPy so far. (If needed, it could be supported, but then it will likely work in many more case on PyPy than on CPython 2.6/2.7.)
  • the __builtins__ name is always referencing the __builtin__ module, never a dictionary as it sometimes is in CPython. Assigning to __builtins__ has no effect.
  • object identity of immutable keys in dictionaries is not necessarily preserved. Never compare immutable objects with is.