Is Array Data Type in Python?


Scott Campbell

Is Array Data Type in Python?

When it comes to working with collections of data in Python, the built-in array module provides an efficient and convenient way to store and manipulate homogeneous data. In this article, we will explore the array data type in Python and see how it differs from other collection types like lists.

What is an Array?

An array is a data structure that stores elements of the same type in a contiguous block of memory. It allows for efficient indexing and random access to its elements. Arrays are widely used for tasks that involve large amounts of numerical computations.

The Array Module

In Python, the array module provides an implementation of arrays. To use this module, you need to import it:

import array

The array module defines an array class that represents arrays as objects. You can create an array by specifying the type code and initializing it with a sequence of values:

my_array = array.array('i', [1, 2, 3, 4, 5])

In the example above, we created an array called my_array with the type code ‘i’, which represents signed integers. The second argument is a list of values that we want to initialize the array with.

Type Codes

The type code determines the underlying data type of the elements in the array. Some common type codes include:

  • ‘i’: signed integer (int)
  • ‘f’: floating-point number (float)
  • ‘d’: double-precision floating-point number (float)
  • ‘b’: signed integer (char)

For a complete list of type codes, you can refer to the Python documentation.

Accessing Array Elements

Array elements can be accessed using indexing. The index starts at 0 for the first element and goes up to the length of the array minus one. To access an element, you can use square brackets:

print(my_array[0])  # Output: 1
print(my_array[2])  # Output: 3

Modifying Array Elements

Once an array is created, you can modify its elements by assigning new values to specific indices:

my_array[1] = 10
print(my_array)  # Output: array('i', [1, 10, 3, 4, 5])

In the example above, we changed the value of the element at index 1 from 2 to 10.

Array vs List

You might wonder why we would use arrays instead of lists in Python. Here are a few reasons:

  • Memory Efficiency: Arrays are more memory-efficient than lists since they store data in a contiguous block of memory.
  • Faster Operations: Array operations like indexing and accessing elements are faster compared to lists.
  • Type Restriction: Arrays only allow elements of the same type, which can be useful for certain applications.

However, lists have their advantages too. Lists can store elements of different types, and they provide more built-in methods and flexibility compared to arrays.


The array module in Python provides a way to work with arrays efficiently. It allows for storing and manipulating homogeneous data using a contiguous block of memory.

Arrays are especially useful for tasks that involve numerical computations and require fast element access. However, it’s important to note that arrays have some limitations compared to lists in terms of flexibility and built-in functionality.

With this knowledge, you can now consider using arrays when appropriate in your Python programs!

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