In Python, a list is a data structure that represents an ordered sequence of elements. Lists are mutable, which means they can be changed after they are created.
You can use lists to store any type of data you want, including strings, integers, floats, and even other lists. Here are 5 reasons why you should use lists in Python.
Store Data of Any Type
As we mentioned before, you can store any type of data in a list. This includes strings, integers, floats, and even other lists. This flexibility makes lists ideal for representing real-world data structures like Series in pandas or Rows in SQL.
Change Data After Creation
Lists are mutable, which means they can be changed after they are created. This is unlike tuples, which are immutable and cannot be changed after creation.
You can use the assignment operator (=) to change the value of an element in a list. You can also use the del keyword to delete an element from a list entirely.
Perform Operations on Data
Lists support all the common operations you would expect such as concatenation (adding two lists together), repetition (creating a list with repeated elements), membership (checking if an element is in a list), and iteration (looping through each element in a list).
These operations make it easy to manipulate and transform data stored in lists.
Access Data Quickly
Lists store data consecutively in memory, which means elements can be accessed quickly using their index.
Indexing is fast because it is a simple operation that only requires determining the memory address of the first element in the list and then adding the index to that address.
This is unlike dictionaries, which require keys to be hashed before they can be looked up.
Optimize Code Performance
Because indexing is so fast, it can improve the performance of your code if used correctly.
For example, if you need to loop through 100 items stored in a list 10 times, it will be faster than looping through 1,000 items stored in a tuple 10 times because tuples do not support indexing (and thus cannot be accessed as quickly).
Lists are one of the most commonly used data structures in Python for good reason. They are versatile, easy to use, and performant. If you’re not using lists in your Python code yet, we hope this blog post has convinced you to start!