Lists and Tuples in Python

Updated on May 20, 2019
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I'm a software developer with a great interest in data analysis and statistics.

Operations on Lists

We have seen earlier how Lists can be created and initialized. It is possible to initialize a list with nothing in it and add items later. It is possible to have heterogeneous items inside the list. It is also possible to have a list encapsulated in another list. When a list contains another list as one of its members it is called nested list.

It is possible to access the elements in a list using positive or negative indexing. Negative indexing returns the nth element from the last while positive indexing returns the nth element from the front.

# declaring empty list
test = []
# list of integers
primeNums = [2,3,5,7]
# list of mixed type values
studentData = ['john', "smith", 29, 415312, 97.89]
#nested list
invoice = [100.00, ["FD20", "FLAT10", "SURPRISE40"], 20, ["No Coupons Applied"]]
print("Empty list test : ", test)
print("Prime Numbers list : ", primeNums)
print("Student Data: ", studentData)
print("****Invoice*** ")
print("Total Bill Amount : $", invoice[0])
print("Available coupons : ", invoice[1])
print("Applied Coupons : ", invoice[3])
print("Sales Tax : $",invoice[2])
print("second last element in studentData: ", studentData[-2]) # example for negative indexing
print("Third Element in studentData: ", studentData[2]) # indexing starts from 0. So, nth item is found at n-1th location.

Output for the above program will be:

Empty list test :  []
Prime Numbers list :  [2, 3, 5, 7]
Student Data:  ['john', 'smith', 29, 415312, 97.89]
Total Bill Amount : $ 100.0
Available coupons :  ['FD20', 'FLAT10', 'SURPRISE40']
Applied Coupons :  ['No Coupons Applied']
Sales Tax : $ 20
second last element in studentData:  415312
Third Element in studentData:  29

Updating and Deleting List Items

It is possible to update or delete the values in a list by specifying the location where changes need to go. Alternatively, lists have built-in methods which can be used to achieve this.

  • List.append(item) – appends an item to the end of the list.
  • List.extend(anotherList) – appends contents of "anotherList" to the existing list.
  • List.remove(item) – removes the item from the list.
  • List.insert(index,data) – inserts the data at given index.
  • List.pop() – removes the last element from the list. The way this function works is similar to pop operation on a stack.

Following example demonstrates how these functions can be used.

nums = [2,3,4,5]
print("initial value of nums List")
nums[0:] = [1,3,5,7]        #alters whole list as index 0 is given as starting point   
print("Altered Value using slice operator [0:] ") 
print("value after appending 9 : ", nums)
print("value after removing 1 : ", nums)
nums.insert(0, 2)
print("value after inserting 2 : ", nums)
top = nums.pop()
print("popped value : ", top, ". value after popping : ", nums)
testList = [11,13,17,19]
print("value after appending testList : ", nums)

Output for the above code will be:

initial value of nums List
[2, 3, 4, 5]
Altered Value using slice operator [0:]
[1, 3, 5, 7]
value after appending 9 :  [1, 3, 5, 7, 9]
value after removing 1 :  [3, 5, 7, 9]
value after inserting 2 :  [2, 3, 5, 7, 9]
popped value :  9 . value after popping :  [2, 3, 5, 7]
value after appending testList :  [2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19]

Important Methods of List

There are some more methods that can be handy while handling lists in Python.

  • len(list) – Gives the length of the list.
  • list(givenTuple) – converts a given tuple to list
  • min(list) – returns the minimum value stored in the list.
  • max(list) – returns the maximum value stored in the list.
  • List.count(givenObj) – returns the frequency of occurrence of the "givenObj" item in the list
  • List.reverse() – reverses the order in which objects are placed in the list.
  • List.sort() – sorts objects in a list.
  • List.index(givenObj) – performs a binary search and returns the index of the first occurrence of "givenObj" in the list.

Following example demonstrates how these functions can be used.

nums = [2,3,4,5,7,3]
print("initial value of nums List")
print("length of nums = ", len(nums))
print("first occurrence of 3 at index ", nums.index(3))
print("minimum value stored in list = ", min(nums))
print("maximum value stored in list = ", max(nums))
print("number of times 3 occurs in the list =", nums.count(3))
print("sorted list = ", nums.sort())
print("reversed list = ", nums.reverse())
testTuple = (10, 20, 30)
print("given tuple : ", testTuple)
newList = list(testTuple)
print("newList value after appending 1 = ", newList)

Output for the above code will be:

initial value of nums List
[2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 3]
length of nums =  6
first occurrence of 3 at index  1
minimum value stored in list =  2
maximum value stored in list =  7
number of times 3 occurs in the list = 2
sorted list =  None
reversed list =  None
given tuple :  (10, 20, 30)
newList value after appending 1 =  [10, 20, 30, 1]

Operations on Tuples

Since Tuples are immutable, unlike lists, they don’t have specifically built-in functions which enable a user to modify them. But there are certain functions that are supported by tuples which are similar to len(), min(), max(), and tuple()

  • Len() – gives the length of the tuple
  • Min() – gives the minimum element in the tuple
  • Max() – gives the maximum value in the tuple
  • Tuple(givenList) – converts the given List to a tuple

© 2019 Sam Shepards


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