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Table of contents
1.
Introduction 
2.
Different Operations in Lists and Arrays
3.
What is List in Python?
3.1.
Example
3.2.
Python
3.3.
Properties of Lists in Python
4.
What is Array in Python?
4.1.
Example:
4.2.
Python
4.3.
Properties of Arrays in Python
5.
Difference Between List and Array in Python
6.
Frequently Asked Questions
6.1.
What is the difference between Python array and list?
6.2.
What is the difference between array and list memory in Python?
6.3.
What is the difference between ArrayList and set in Python?
6.4.
What is the difference between array and ArrayList?
7.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024
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Difference Between Lists and Arrays in Python

Author Kanak Rana
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Introduction 

Understanding the differences between lists and arrays in Python is fundamental for effective data manipulation and storage. While both structures serve similar purposes, they possess distinct characteristics that impact how data is managed and accessed in Python programming. 

difference between list and array in python

In this article, we will discuss arrays and lists in Python, how they have connected to each other, and the difference between Lists and Arrays in Python.

Different Operations in Lists and Arrays

In Python, lists and arrays offer distinct functionalities and operations, each tailored to specific use cases. Here's a breakdown of the different operations commonly performed on lists and arrays:

Lists:

  1. Dynamic Size: Lists in Python are dynamic arrays that can resize automatically as elements are added or removed.
  2. Heterogeneous Elements: Lists can contain elements of different data types within the same structure.
  3. Flexible Manipulation: Lists support various operations like append, insert, remove, and pop for adding, modifying, and removing elements.
  4. Indexing and Slicing: Lists allow direct access to elements via indexing and support slicing operations to extract sublists.
  5. Iterating: Lists can be iterated over using loops or comprehensions to process each element sequentially.
     

Arrays (NumPy arrays):

  1. Fixed Size: Arrays in Python, especially NumPy arrays, have a fixed size once created, providing better memory efficiency and performance for numerical computations.
  2. Homogeneous Data: Arrays require elements of the same data type, ensuring efficient storage and computation for numerical operations.
  3. Vectorized Operations: NumPy arrays support vectorized operations, allowing mathematical operations to be applied to entire arrays efficiently.
  4. Broadcasting: Arrays support broadcasting, enabling operations between arrays of different shapes with implicit alignment.
  5. Advanced Indexing: Arrays offer advanced indexing capabilities, including boolean indexing, integer array indexing, and fancy indexing, allowing for complex data manipulations.
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What is List in Python?

The List is one type of built-in data structure in Python that can store a collection of items. It is a key element to gather various items into a single variable. It can gather objects that typically include components of various data types. Some examples of these could be logical character values, numerical, and more.

List in python

Example

Lets try to make a program for todo list in Python using List:

  • Python

Python

# Define an empty list to store tasks
to_do_list = []

# Add tasks to the list
to_do_list.append("Meetings")
to_do_list.append("Finish project")
to_do_list.append("Blog writing")

# Print the current tasks
print("Current tasks:")
for task in to_do_list:
print("- " + task)

# Remove a task from the list
to_do_list.remove("Meetings")

# Print the updated list
print("\nUpdated tasks:")
for task in to_do_list:
print("- " + task)

Output

Current tasks:
- Meetings
- Finish project
- Blog writing

Updated tasks:
- Finish project
- Blog writing

 

Explanation

In this example, the to_do_list variable is a Python list used to store tasks. Tasks are added to the list using the append() method and removed using the remove() method. 

Properties of Lists in Python

The important characteristics of Python lists are as follows:

  • Lists are ordered.
     
  • Lists can contain any arbitrary objects.
     
  • List elements can be accessed by index.
     
  • Lists can be nested to arbitrary depth.
     
  • Lists are mutable.
     
  • Lists are dynamic.

 

Must Read Python List Operations

What is Array in Python?

An array is a collection of the same data types. It is a data structure that can hold more than one value at a time. We must import the array from the 'array' or 'NumPy' module.

What is Arrays in Python?

The main difference between list and array in Python is that array can only store one data type say int, but List can store multiple data types at one time, say int, float, boolean, etc.

Example:

Let's understand it pictorially:

  • By using the array module.
Arrays in Python
  • By using the numpy module:
     
  • Python

Python

import numpy as np
arr = [1, 2, 3, 4]
numpy_array = np.array(arr)
print (" Array using numpy module:")
print(numpy_array)

 

Output:

output

Moving forward, we'll see some properties of arrays in the topic names difference between list and array in python.

Properties of Arrays in Python

The attributes of arrays in the data structure are listed below:

  • It is a derived data type comprised of various primitive data types, including char, float, and int.
     
  • The default data structure that Python provides is not arrays.
     
  • The array must be imported from the "array" or "NumPy" module.
     
  • The primary memory is used to store array elements in contiguous blocks.
     
  • The base address of the array is stored in the array name. It serves as a pointer to the memory block in which the first element is stored.
explanation for pointer in array
  • For single-dimensional arrays, where n is the number of elements in the array, array indices range from 0 to N-1.
     
  • Only constants and literal values can be used to create array elements.
     

Now let's jump into the sub-topic of the difference between list and array in python i.e lists in python.

Difference Between List and Array in Python

The difference between list and array in Python are the following:

Feature

Arrays 

List

Imports Arrays need to be imported using an array or numpy. Lists are in-built data structures.
Types The collection of multiple items of the same data type in an array is another essential element. Lists collect items that typically have components of various data types.
Size Arrays need to have the same size as the array for nesting. In list variable size nesting is possible.
Printing To print the array elements, a specific loop must be created. Without explicitly creating a loop, the List can be printed.
Memory An array consumes less memory in comparison to a list. The List consumes more memory.
Flexibility The array is not flexible because it makes it difficult to modify data. The List is ideal in terms of flexibility since it makes data modification simple. 
Arithmetic Operations We can apply direct arithmetic operations in an array. In lists, it is not possible to apply arithmetic operations directly.
Broadcasting Supports broadcasting, element-wise operations Does not support broadcasting efficiently
Data Type Homogeneous (all elements of the same type) Heterogeneous (elements can have any type)
Syntax For Creation Created using NumPy.array  Created using square brackets [ ]

 

Check out Escape Sequence in Python

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Python array and list?

Arrays in Python (from the array module) are homogeneous collections with a fixed data type, while lists are heterogeneous collections supporting various data types and dynamic resizing.

What is the difference between array and list memory in Python?

Arrays are more memory-efficient than lists in Python, as arrays store elements of the same data type, whereas lists can store elements of different types.

What is the difference between ArrayList and set in Python?

ArrayList is a data structure in Java, not Python. In Python, a set is an unordered collection of unique elements, while ArrayList is a resizable array-like structure in Java.

What is the difference between array and ArrayList?

In Java, arrays have a fixed size, while ArrayLists can dynamically resize. In Python, arrays (from the array module) are more similar to lists, while ArrayLists are not native to Python.

Conclusion

We hope this article was insightful and you learned something new. In the article "difference between list and array in python," you will learn that the key difference is, lists are used to group items together that typically include components from different data types. Whereas elements of the same data type can be collected in an array. This article will help to understand both arrays and lists in Python.

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