## DEV Community π©βπ»π¨βπ» is a community of 963,274 amazing developers

We're a place where coders share, stay up-to-date and grow their careers.

sachin soman

Posted on

# Python Tuples and List

Python `tuple` and `list` are really interesting, if we don't keep a keen eye
on the documentation, we may miss several important fine prints.
I will in this page not include the common stuff only those things I see as stuff that I may forget will be presented.

First lets initialize a `list`

``````x = [1,2,3,4]
``````
• list is mutable
• it is dynamic
• it is ordered
• have any type of objects as elements eg an int element and some user defined object in same list

we can retrieve the last element in a list without knowing its length by negative index slicing

``````last_element_x = x[-1]
Output:4
``````

Lets have an another negative index slicing

``````x = [1,2,3,4,5]
last_element_x = x[-5:-1]
Output:[1, 2, 3, 4]
``````

We can slice in steps

``````x = [1,2,3,4,5]
slice_in_steps_x = x[len(x):0:-2]
Output:[6, 4, 2]
``````

So we can do same for reversing the string

``````x = [1,2,3,4,5]
reversed_x = x[::-1]
Output:[5, 4, 3, 2, 1]
``````

Other things in list include `mutability` , `nested lists` and all the `functions` associated with list object which I can use docs to access and
nothing new there

# Tuples

Tuples are really interesting and I have some important observations which I would like to share including how `kwargs` in functions work.

Tuple has a lot of similarity with a list as in data can be accessed, sliced and of course, like data in list it is ordered; The major difference between list and tuple
is that tuple is immutable and is much faster than a list. The access times will only matter in large data and in most trivial situations the access time shouldn't matter much.

Tuple defined by use of parenthesis

``````x = (1,2,3,)
type(x)
Output:tuple
``````

However look at this example

``````x = (1)
type(x)
Output:int
``````

Here we expected to get type tuple but python interprets it as a simple int. So what happens here is that remember we use `()` in other stuff like
in `if` condition etc. So python thinks that the `()` used here is for something like `if(1)` and thinks that `x = (1)` is just an `int`.Instead, if
we define x as shown below.

``````x = (1,)
type(x)
Output:tuple
``````

Here we added a comma after which the interpreter has identified the variable to be of type tuple. One thing to note is that this quirk occurs only when we
define a single items

### Tuple Unpacking

When we define a tuple with multiple items its as if the object is packed and we can subsequently assign different items in the tuple to different
variables this is an important concept to remember as we dive into some interesting stuff now.
Ignore my crude drawings

Lets try to to unpack the tuple `x = [1,2,3]` to variables a, b, c:

``````x = (1,2,3)
type(x)
Output:tuple
a,b,c = x
print(a)
Output:1
print(b)
Output:2
print(c)
Output:3
``````

Unpacking in action

So here we can see that each item in tuple gets assigned to each variable.
An interesting thing to note is that

``````x = (1,2,3)
a,b,c = x
is same as
(a,b,c) = x
``````

In such situations python doesn't care for the `()` parentheses. This is an important observation when we discuss
stuff later in the section.
With this new found observation lets look at one more example

``````x = 1,2,3,4
type(x)
Output:tuple
``````

So here we assigned a tuple without the need for a `parantheses`. With that we might be able recognize the the famous example
everyone gives to show how easy python is. `swapping elements without a temporary variable`

``````x1 , x2 = 1 , 2
x1 , x2 = x2 , x1
print(x1)
Output: 2
print(x2)
Output: 1
``````

This is because we used tuples without parentheses and tuple unpacking. I know `MIND == BLOWN!!`

### *args

Now I need to show one more thing before I conclude this blog. Infact it all come down to this

insert drumrolls...

Remember that in python there are functions where we can enter as many paramenters as we want like `max(1,2,3,4,5,6,7)` and get a result.
How does the function know how many arguments were passed?
Before we go into details here some examples we need to see

``````x = 1,2,3,4,5
type(x)
Output:tuple
a,b,c = x
Output: ValueError: too many values to unpack
``````

Here we see that when I try to unpack tuple x to variables a,b,c since I only have 3 variables and for unpacking I have 5 values we get a `ValueError`
in such cases we can do the following

``````x = 1,2,3,4,5
type(x)
Output:tuple
a,b,*c = x
print(a)
Output: 1
print(b)
Output: 2
print(c)
Output: [3,4,5]
``````

Here we see that when I used `*` on variable c the tuple elements gets added to c as a list and I can now iterate through it. Pretty neat!.
This is known as unpacking of tuple.
lets look at some more examples

``````x = 1,2,3,4,5
type(x)
Output:tuple
a,*b,c = x
print(a)
Output: 1
print(b)
Output: [2,3,4]
print(c)
Output: 5
``````

This is self explanatory the interpreter does its best to assign values by dividing them.

``````x = 1,2,3,4,5
type(x)
Output:tuple
*a,*b,c = x
Output: SyntaxError: two starred expressions in assignment
``````

Here the interpretor doesn't know how to split data so it throws a `SyntaxError`

Now lets look at an example code

``````def test_function(*args):
for x in args:
print(x," ")

test_function(1,2,3,4,5)
Output: 1 2 3 4 5
``````

So what happened here. Like our previous examples, the arguments 1,2,3,4,5 get passed to *args which will be an unpacked tuple
and therefore we can iterate through the args like we would on a normal tuple or a list.
With this information, we can now make methods which can have a varying number of parameters.

These are some of the interesting observations I had while studying about tuples and list. If I made some egregious mistakes do send me a mail
or put a pull request on my repo. Also do check out my other blogs as well links in About section :)

## Need better DEV posts?

You can set your approximate experience level in settings which can help improve the relevance of your DEV Home Feed.