Blog_Banner_Asset
    Homebreadcumb forward arrow iconBlogbreadcumb forward arrow iconData Science USbreadcumb forward arrow iconPython Array vs List: What’s The Difference

Python Array vs List: What’s The Difference

Last updated:
20th Jun, 2022
Views
Read Time
7 Mins
share image icon
In this article
Chevron in toc
View All
Python Array vs List: What’s The Difference

Python is one of the top programming languages used by programmers worldwide due to its easier application and efficiency. One other feature responsible for its popularity is its diverse user-friendly data structures. As digitization is taking over the world by storm, programming is playing a key role in managing several related applications. Instead of using time-consuming programming methods, Python offers a variety of data structures to simplify programming. These data structures are created with different features to accomplish different tasks, where users can opt for the one relevant to their programming. Amid various Python data structures, array and list are the most popular ones.

Array and list are the two most prominently used data structures with similar features. They are both used to store data and grant access to various containing elements for iteration and indexing. Data structures in Python can either be in-built or accessed through imported packages and modules. array and list data structures, being part of the Python programming languages, share many similarities for smooth implementation. So what makes these two different from each other? 

Get data science certification from the World’s top Universities. Learn Executive PG Programs, Advanced Certificate Programs, or Masters Programs to fast-track your career.

Let’s find out!

Ads of upGrad blog

What is Array in Python?

An array is a homogenous collection of elements, placed contiguously in memory location so the system can have easier access and quick calculation. Homogenous collection means elements belonging to the same data type. An array can hold a fixed number of non-unique variables, placed in the ordered form under square brackets. Arrays can deal with large amounts of non-unique data as implementation is easier and element indices are run during computing. They also grant access to random containing elements. 

An array holds multiple values under a single name but indexes different values for different elements in the memory. It is composed of two parts: an element, which is any stored item within an array, and an index, which is the numerical value assigned to each element, allowing easy modification to the user. Array sorts values in an ordered sequence to avoid using lengthy variables. An array module is used to implement arrays in Python. 

Check our US - Data Science Programs

What is a List in Python?

The list is one of the four in-built data structures offered under Python. List and arrays share similarities, but list is comparatively more flexible, enabling different data elements in its list. Furthermore, the list provides users the ability of negative indexing.

Along with these features, list allows item duplication, mutability, concatenations, slicing, and nested lists. Items in list are represented by elements inside the square brackets, separated by quotes and commas. Each element holds its unique place; therefore, access through the index is extremely easy. Implementation is an easy task under list, but indexing is a hassle – users cannot delete or add elements from the beginning of the list. It is only possible at the end of the list. 

List, just like array, features elements in an ordered fashion. While mutability is a valuable option in the data structure, list does not provide users with the freedom to rotate or add elements. Users may change the value of an item in the list, but it is not possible to rotate the elements or add one from the beginning of the list.

Difference Between Array and List in Python

Array and list data structures in Python share various similarities in operations, but their differences are more prominent. Features such as modification abilities, numeric functions, data type storage, replaceability, declaration, and memory usage are a few aspects where they widely differ:

Array

List

Array needs to be declared using any array module or NumPy library.List is in-built in Python and does not require declaration.
Contains similar types of non-unique data type elements only.Supports all data type elements in the list.
Size cannot be changed once an array is established.List size is resizable and can be changed.
Stores data in a more compact manner, also cannot be resized.Requires extra space to resize and index additional elements.
Modifications like addition, deletion, or updating data elements are complex as it runs through every single element at a time.Changes like addition, deletion, or updating data elements are easy.
They are preferred to store large amounts of data. They are used to store small amounts of data. 
A loop is necessary for array elements to be displayed.Loop is not required to display elements of a List.

These are some of the significant differences between these two data structures in Python. While comprehending the differences is easy, knowing which one to implement during programming can be confusing. 

Array or List: Which One to Use?

Array and list have their own contrasting features relevant to Python operations. There is no better of these two. Implementation entirely depends on the element being stored and the operation it is meant to perform. The question of when to use these should be solved by comparing a few features.

If the programmer intends on performing functions on a small data set, then a list is the preferred data structure. On the other hand, array is the right choice to deal with longer data sequences if the retrieved data set is bigger.

Read our Popular US - Data Science Articles

Fuel Your Career with an Online Certification

Considering using your programming skills towards a better career? A professional certification can drastically change the course of your career. This small addition to your resume will strengthen your professional skills through educational benefits and boost your chances to seek better career opportunities in the industry.

Array also performs excellent with numerical operations. The NumPy module supports an array by performing various mathematical operations, including logarithmic functions and trigonometry. Contrary to it, a list cannot perform any kind of mathematical operations. Therefore, a list must be used for data that does not need any arithmetic operations.

Fuel Your Career with an Online Certification

Considering using your programming skills towards a better career? A professional certification can drastically change the course of your career. This small addition to your resume will strengthen your professional skills through educational benefits and boost your chances to seek better career opportunities in the industry.

Ads of upGrad blog

If you are looking for a course to implement your programming knowledge, then the Professional Certificate Program in Data Science from University of Maryland is the right choice for you! This 9-month course is created with best-in-class content provided by industry leaders and leading faculty, giving learners that need a push in the data science domain. Under the period of this course, learners will have access to the intricacies of data science and business analytics to sieve through one of the most sought-after tech markets.

According to Glassdoor’s List of Top 50 Jobs in America for 2022, most data science jobs bag high places, with Data Scientists leading at number 3. Future awaits exponential growth for data science students, and you can be a part of it too! Visit upGrad to learn more about this course and many more available!

Conclusion

Now that you have an idea of the basic features of these two, understanding which data structure would be the most efficient for your programming operation should not be a problem. Array and list both are efficient programming data structures with their own advantages and disadvantages, created to accomplish different tasks. Continuous practice and implementation will offer you the proficiency to make the best use of array and list according to the type of data stored and the operations performed. 

Profile

Pavan Vadapalli

Blog Author
Director of Engineering @ upGrad. Motivated to leverage technology to solve problems. Seasoned leader for startups and fast moving orgs. Working on solving problems of scale and long term technology strategy.
Get Free Consultation

Selectcaret down icon
Select Area of interestcaret down icon
Select Work Experiencecaret down icon
By clicking 'Submit' you Agree to  
UpGrad's Terms & Conditions

Our Best Data Science Courses

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1What are the limitations of List in Python?

Among the many benefits of List, List limits its usability because the user can only affix data at the end. A programmer often has to add items at the beginning, but a List data structure limits this feature. As the List lacks the flexibility to add objects, rotation of containing elements is also not allowed.

2What are the limitations of Array in Python?

Fixed size of an array is its most significant limitation. If an array is created once, no elements can be included or deleted. The length of an array is fixed with the containing element of a single type. The length can only be decided during its establishment.

3 Is a List in Python Dynamic or Static?

Unlike arrays, Lists are not too limiting. Lists are highly dynamic. They allow users to store more than one type of variable. One can also control the values inside. In terms of data storage, Lists can be highly flexible. The List is also one of the default data structures available in Python, whereas array does not feature in Python's built-in data structures.

Explore Free Courses

Suggested Blogs

Top 10 Real-Time SQL Project Ideas: For Beginners & Advanced
15458
Thanks to the big data revolution, the modern business world collects and analyzes millions of bytes of data every day. However, regardless of the bus
Read More

by Pavan Vadapalli

28 Aug 2023

Python Free Online Course with Certification [US 2024]
5519
Data Science is now considered to be the future of technology. With its rapid emergence and innovation, the career prospects of this course are increa
Read More

by Pavan Vadapalli

14 Apr 2023

13 Exciting Data Science Project Ideas & Topics for Beginners in US [2024]
5474
Data Science projects are great for practicing and inheriting new data analysis skills to stay ahead of the competition and gain valuable experience.
Read More

by Rohit Sharma

07 Apr 2023

4 Types of Data: Nominal, Ordinal, Discrete, Continuous
6425
Data refers to the collection of information that is gathered and translated for specific purposes. With over 2.5 quintillion data being produced ever
Read More

by Rohit Sharma

06 Apr 2023

Best Python Free Online Course with Certification You Should Check Out [2024]
5711
Data Science is now considered to be the future of technology. With its rapid emergence and innovation, the career prospects of this course are increa
Read More

by Rohit Sharma

05 Apr 2023

5 Types of Binary Tree in Data Structure Explained
5385
A binary tree is a non-linear tree data structure that contains each node with a maximum of 2 children. The binary name suggests the number 2, so any
Read More

by Rohit Sharma

03 Apr 2023

42 Exciting Python Project Ideas & Topics for Beginners [2024]
6003
Python is an interpreted, high-level, object-oriented programming language and is prominently ranked as one of the top 5 most famous programming langu
Read More

by Rohit Sharma

02 Apr 2023

5 Reasons Why Python Continues To Be The Top Programming Language
5362
Introduction Python is an all-purpose high-end scripting language for programmers, which is easy to understand and replicate. It has a massive base o
Read More

by Rohit Sharma

01 Apr 2023

Why Should One Start Python Coding in Today’s World?
5241
Python is the world’s most popular programming language, used by both professional engineer developers and non-designers. It is a highly demanded lang
Read More

by Rohit Sharma

16 Feb 2023

Schedule 1:1 free counsellingTalk to Career Expert
icon
footer sticky close icon