What Is List of List in Data Structure?


Scott Campbell

Lists are an essential component in data structures, allowing us to organize and store multiple elements. In some cases, we may encounter situations where we need to store a collection of lists within another list. This is where the concept of a List of Lists comes into play.

What is a List of Lists?

A List of Lists, also known as a nested list, is a data structure that contains multiple lists as its elements. Each element in the main list can be another list itself. This hierarchical structure allows us to create more complex data representations and solve problems efficiently.

Creating a List of Lists

To create a List of Lists, we can use various programming languages, but the underlying idea remains the same. Let’s explore an example using Python:

# Create an empty List of Lists
my_list_of_lists = []

# Create individual lists
list1 = [1, 2, 3]
list2 = [4, 5, 6]
list3 = [7, 8, 9]

# Add individual lists to the main list

In this example, we created three separate lists: list1, list2, and list3. These lists contain different elements. We then added these individual lists to the main my_list_of_lists using the .append() method.

Accessing Elements in a List of Lists

To access elements within a List of Lists, we use indexing twice – once for accessing the outer list and then for accessing the inner list. Let’s see an example:

# Accessing elements in a List of Lists
print(my_list_of_lists[0])  # Output: [1, 2, 3]
print(my_list_of_lists[1])  # Output: [4, 5, 6]
print(my_list_of_lists[2])  # Output: [7, 8, 9]

# Accessing individual elements within inner lists
print(my_list_of_lists[0][0])  # Output: 1
print(my_list_of_lists[1][2])  # Output: 6
print(my_list_of_lists[2][1])  # Output: 8

As shown above, we can access the outer lists using single indexing and the inner lists using nested indexing.

Applications of List of Lists

The List of Lists data structure finds applications in various domains. Here are a few examples:

  • Matrix Representation: A matrix can be represented as a List of Lists. Each inner list corresponds to a row in the matrix.
  • Hierarchical Data: When dealing with hierarchical data like directories and subdirectories or organizational structures, a List of Lists can offer an efficient way to represent and traverse the data.
  • Multi-dimensional Data: In scientific computing or machine learning applications, multi-dimensional arrays can be represented using a List of Lists.

The flexibility and versatility provided by the List of Lists data structure make it an invaluable tool for solving complex problems efficiently.


In this article, we explored the concept of a List of Lists in data structures. We learned how to create and access elements within a List of Lists using indexing. Additionally, we discussed some real-world applications where the List of Lists data structure can be beneficial.

By understanding and utilizing the List of Lists data structure effectively, you can enhance your problem-solving skills and tackle more complex programming tasks with ease.

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