What Data Structure Is List in Python?


Angela Bailey

Data structures are an integral part of programming as they help us organize and manipulate data efficiently. In Python, one of the most commonly used data structures is the list. A list is a versatile and dynamic data structure that allows us to store and manipulate a collection of values.

Creating a List

To create a list in Python, we use square brackets [] and separate each element with a comma. Let’s say we want to create a list of numbers:

numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

We can also have lists containing elements of different types:

mixed_list = [1, 'apple', True, 3.14]

Accessing List Elements

We can access individual elements in a list using their index value. In Python, indexing starts from 0. For example:

fruits = ['apple', 'banana', 'orange']
print(fruits[0])  # Output: apple
print(fruits[1])  # Output: banana
print(fruits[2])  # Output: orange

We can also use negative indexing to access elements from the end of the list:

fruits = ['apple', 'banana', 'orange']
print(fruits[-1])  # Output: orange
print(fruits[-2])  # Output: banana
print(fruits[-3])  # Output: apple

Modifying List Elements

Lists in Python are mutable, meaning we can change their elements. We can assign a new value to a specific index:

fruits = ['apple', 'banana', 'orange']
fruits[1] = 'grape'
print(fruits)  # Output: ['apple', 'grape', 'orange']

List Methods

Python provides several built-in methods to perform various operations on lists:


The append() method adds an element to the end of a list:

fruits = ['apple', 'banana']
print(fruits)  # Output: ['apple', 'banana', 'orange']


The insert() method inserts an element at a specific index:

fruits = ['apple', 'banana']
fruits.insert(1, 'orange')
print(fruits)  # Output: ['apple', 'orange', 'banana']


The remove() method removes the first occurrence of the specified element:

fruits = ['apple', 'banana', 'orange']
print(fruits)  # Output: ['apple', 'orange']

This is just a glimpse of the many methods available for manipulating lists in Python.

List Slicing

List slicing allows us to extract a portion of a list by specifying its start and end indices. The syntax for list slicing is [start:end]. For example:

numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
print(numbers[1:4])  # Output: [2, 3, 4]

List Length

To find the number of elements in a list, we can use the len() function:

fruits = ['apple', 'banana', 'orange']
print(len(fruits))  # Output: 3


The list data structure in Python is flexible and powerful. It allows us to store and manipulate collections of values efficiently.

With various methods and slicing techniques, we can easily modify and extract elements as per our requirements. Understanding lists is crucial for any Python programmer as they are extensively used in real-world applications.

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