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Lists in Python & Operations on Python Lists | FACE Prep

Published on 12 Mar 2020

To begin with, let's know this first - What are Lists in Python?

Lists in Python are a collection of elements of various data types like integer, string, float etc. Once initialized, the elements in a list can be changed or modified. Also, Lists in Python are ordered and have a definite count. Now, let's understand Lists better by looking at its operations.

How to Create Lists in Python?

List creation is pretty simple in Python. You can place all your elements/items separated with commas , inside a square bracket [ ] and that forms a list.

lists in python

Here is an example.

#List with no elements
list1 = [ ]

#list with single element
list2 = ["Python"]

# list with multiple elements of different data types
list3 = ["Python", 15, 10.5]

['Python', 15, 10.5]

Note: A list can have another list as an element/item inside it. Such a list is called as Nested list.

How to Access Elements in a List?

a) Accessing 1 Element at a Time

The elements/items in the list can be accessed using the index operator [ ]. List index starts from 0. So, if a list has 10 elements, then its index will start at 0 and end at 9. If we try to access an element that is out of the index range, then the compiler will give you an Index error. Also, the index value must be an integer only.

Similarly, elements of a nested list can be accessed using nested indices.

# accessing elements in a list
list1 = [30, 20.2, "Python"]

# accessing elements in a nested list
list2 = [[30], [20.2, "Python"]]


Similar to Strings in Python, Lists can also be accessed both forward and backward. Backward indexing is also called as negative indexing as the index starts at -1. The above examples are based on forward indexing, now, let us look at how the same items can be accessed using negative indexing.

# accessing elements in a list
list1 = [30, 20.2, "Python"]

# accessing elements in a nested list
list2 = [[30], [20.2, "Python"]]


b) Accessing a Range of Elements at a Time (Slicing)

In Python, a range of elements in a list can be accessed using the slicing operator : and this technique is called Slicing in List.While using this slicing operator, you need to mention the starting index & ending index of values to be sliced and the values till the position (ending index - 1) get sliced.

#slicing a list
list1 = [10, 20.3, 29, "Welcome", "Hai"]

[20.3, 29, Welcome]

Explanation: Here, the starting index value 1 is inclusive and the ending index value 4 is exclusive.

How to Change/Modify an Element in the List?

Unlike Strings & Tuples, Lists are mutable. This means their elements can be easily modified or new elements can be easily added to a list.To modify a list element or a range of elements, we can simply assign a new value to it using its index value. For example,

list1 = [5, 16.3, 345, "Python", "FACE Prep"]

#modifying one element in the list
list1 [1] = 18.1
print (list1)

#modifying range of elements in the list
list1 [1:5] = [18.1, 987, "I am", "the best"]
print (list1)

[5, 18.1, 345, 'Python', 'FACE Prep']
[5, 18.1, 987, 'I am', 'the best']

How to Add New Element to a List?

a) Using extend ()

We can add one or more elements/items to a list at a time. To add one element, we can use the append () method and to add several items, we can use the extend () method.

list1 = [5, 16.3, 345, "Python", "FACE Prep"]

#adding one element at a time
list1.append (18.1)
print (list1)

#adding several elements at a time
list1.extend (["I love Coding", 25, 19.6])
print (list1)

[5, 16.3, 345, 'Python', 'FACE Prep', 18.1]
[5, 16.3, 345, 'Python', 'FACE Prep', 18.1, 'I love Coding', 25, 19.6]

b) Using insert ()

The syntax to insert one element into a list is insert (index value, element to be inserted)and in case you want to insert several elements, then simply put them in an empty list. For instance,

list1 = [5, 16.3, 345, "Python", "FACE Prep"]

#adding one element at a time
list1.insert (1, 18.1)
print (list1)

#adding several elements at a time
list1 [1:1] = ["New Element", 3, 87.1]
print (list1)

[5, 18.1, 16.3, 345, 'Python', 'FACE Prep']
[5, 'New Element', 3, 87.1, 18.1, 16.3, 345, 'Python', 'FACE Prep']

How to Delete Elements in a List?

The del keyword can be used to delete one element, several elements,or the entire list.

list1 = [5, 16.3, 345, "Python", "FACE Prep"]

#deleting one element
del list1[1]
print (list1)

#deleting several elements
del list1[1:5]
print (list1)

#deleting entire list
del list1
print (list1)

[5, 345, 'Python', 'FACE Prep']
Traceback (most recent call last):
File “main.py”, line 13, in
print (list1)
NameError: name ‘list1’ is not defined

Explanation: In the last step, we deleted the entire list and then tried to print it, hence it throws an error. This means our list got deleted and the program executed correctly.

Other List Operations

a) Simple List Operations

Consider the following lists to understand the below operations better.

L1 = [1, 2, 6, "Python"]

L2 = [9.1, 6, 7, "FACE Prep"]

*List elements get repeated multiple number of times.
print (L1 * 2)

[1, 2, 6, “Python”, 1, 2, 6, “Python”]
+Concatenates two lists. Meaning, it appends their elements.
print (L1 + L2)

[1, 2, 6, “Python”, 9.1, 6, 7, “FACE Prep”]
in, not inReturns True if an element exists in the list and False otherwise.
print(2 in L1)

Output: True.

b) Built-in List Functions

cmp (list1, list2)It compares the elements of both the lists.
len (list)It is used to calculate the length of the list.
max (list)It returns the maximum element of the list.
min (list)It returns the minimum element of the list.

c) Built-in List Methods

Some of the important Python List methods are given below. These help perform a lot of operations with ease.

pop()Removes and returns an element at the given index
clear () Remove all the elements in a list
count ()Returns the index of the element or the number of times an element is present in the list
reverse ()Reverses the elements in a list

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