# Lecture 7 — Lists Part 1¶

## Overview¶

• So far we’ve looked at working with individual values and variables.
• This is cumbersome even for just two or three variables.
• We need a way to aggregate multiple values and refer to them using a single variable.
• We have done a little bit of this with strings, but now we are going to get started for real.

This lecture is largely based on Sections 8.1-8.3 of Practical Programming.

## Lists are Sequences of Values¶

• Gather together values that have common meaning.

• As a first example, here are scores of 7 judges for the free skating part of a figure skating competition:

scores = [ 59, 61, 63, 63, 68, 64, 58 ]

• As a second example, here are the names of the planets in the solar system (including Pluto, for now):

planets = [ 'Mercury', 'Venus', 'Earth', 'Mras', 'Jupiter',
'Saturn', 'Neptune', 'Uranus', 'Pluto' ]

• Notes on syntax:

• Begin with [ and end with ]
• Commas separate the individual values
• The spaces between values are optional and are used for clarity here.
• Any type of object may be stored in a list, and each list can mix different types.

## Why bother?¶

• Gather common values together, providing them with a common name, especially when we don’t know how many values we will have.
• Apply an operation to the values as a group.
• Apply an operation to each value in the group.
• Examples of computations on lists:
• Average and standard deviation
• Which values are above and below the average
• Correct mistakes
• Remove values (Pluto)
• Look at differences
• Watch for these themes throughout the next few lectures.

## Accessing Individual Values — Indexing¶

• Notice that we made the mistake in typing 'Mras'. How do we fix this? We’ll start by looking at indexing.

• The line

>>> print(planets)


accesses and prints the string at what’s known as index 1 of the list planets.

• Each item / value in the list is associated with a unique index

• Indexing in Python (and most other programming languages) starts at 0.

• The notation is again to use [ and ] with an integer (non-negative) to indicate which list item.

• What is the last index in planets?

• We can find the length using len() and then figure out the answer.

## A Memory Model for Lists¶

We’ll draw a memory model in class that illustrates the relationship among

• The name of the list
• The indices
• The values stored in the list

## Practice Problems¶

We will work on these in class:

1. What is the index of the first value in scores that is greater than 65?
2. Write a line of Python code to print this value and to print the previous and next values of the list.
3. What is the index of the middle value in a list that is odd length? For even length lists, what are the indices of the middle two values?

## Changing Values in the List¶

• Once we know about indexing, changing a value in a list is easy:

>>> planets = 'Mars'

• This makes item 3 of planets now refer to the string 'Mars'

• Now we can check the output:

>>> print(planets)


to make sure we got it right.

• Strings are similar in many ways.

>>> s = 'abc'
>>> s
'a'
>>> s
'b'

• Big difference: you can change a part of a list; you cannot change part of a string!

>>> s = 'A'
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
TypeError: 'str' object does not support item assignment


## All Indices Are Not Allowed¶

• If t is a list, then the items are stored at indices from 0 to len(t)-1.

• If you try to access indices at len(t) or beyond, you get a run-time error. We’ll take a look and see.

• If you access negative indices, interesting things happen:

>>> print(planets[-1])
Pluto

• More specifically, for any list t, if i is an index from 0 to len(t)-1 then t[i] and t[i-len(t)] are the same spot in the list.

## Functions on Lists: Computing the Average¶

• There are many functions (methods) on lists. We can learn all about them using the help command.

• This is just like we did for strings and for modules, e.g.

>>> import math
>>> help(math)

>>> help(str)

• Interestingly, we can run help in two ways, one

help(list)


gives us the list methods, and the second

help(planets)


tells us that planets is a list before giving us list methods.

• First, let’s see some basic functions on the list values.

• The basic functions max, sum and min may be applied to lists as well.

• This gives us a simple way to compute the average of our list of scores.

>>> print("Average Scores = {:.2f}".format( sum(scores) / len(scores) ))
Average Scores = 62.29
>>> print("Max Score =", max(scores))
Max Score = 68
>>> print("Min Score =", min(scores))
Min Score = 58

• Exploring, we will look at what happens when we apply sum, max and min to our list of planet names. Can you explain the result?

## Functions that modify the input: Sorting a list¶

• We can also sort the values in a list by sorting it. Let’s try the following:

>>> planets = [ 'Mercury', 'Venus', 'Earth', 'Mras', 'Jupiter', \
'Saturn', 'Neptune', 'Uranus', 'Pluto' ]
>>> planets
['Mercury', 'Venus', 'Earth', 'Mras', 'Jupiter', 'Saturn', 'Neptune', 'Uranus', 'Pluto']
>>> planets.sort()
>>> planets
['Earth', 'Jupiter', 'Mercury', 'Mras', 'Neptune', 'Pluto', 'Saturn', 'Uranus', 'Venus']

• Note that we did not assign the value returned by sort to a new variable. This is the first function we have learned that modifies the input but returns nothing. following and see what happens:

>>> scores = [ 59, 61, 63, 63, 68, 64, 58 ]
>>> new_scores = scores.sort()
>>> scores
[58, 59, 61, 63, 63, 64, 68]
>>> new_scores
>>>

• Ok, what is the value of the variable new_scores? It is unclear. Let’s try in a different way.
>>> print(scores)
[58, 59, 61, 63, 63, 64, 68]
>>> print(new_scores)
None
>>>

• So, the function returns nothing! But, it does change the value of the input list. This is the first such function we have seen.

• It does so because lists are containers, and functions can manipulate what is inside containers. Functions cannot do so for simple types like integer and float.

• If we want a new list that is sorted without changing the original list then we use the sorted() function:

>>> scores = [ 59, 61, 63, 63, 68, 64, 58 ]
>>> new_scores = sorted(scores)
>>> scores
[ 59, 61, 63, 63, 68, 64, 58 ]
>>> new_scores
[58, 59, 61, 63, 63, 64, 68]
>>>


## More Functions: Appending Values, Inserting Values, Deleting¶

• Now, we will see more functions that can change the value of a list without returning anything.
• Armed with this knowledge, we can figure out how to add and remove values from a list:
• append()
• insert()
• pop()
• remove()
• These operations are fundamental to any “container” — an object type that stores other objects.
• Lists are our first example of a container

## Lists of Lists¶

• Note that lists can contain any mixture of values, including other lists.

• For example, in

>>> L = [ 'Alice', 3.75, ['MATH', 'CSCI', 'PSYC' ], 'PA' ]

• L is the name,
• L is the GPA
• L is a list of courses
• L is the 0th course, 'MATH'
• L is a home state abbreviation
• We will write code to print the courses, to change the math course to a stats course, and to append a zipcode.

## Additional Practice Problems¶

1. Write three different ways of removing the last value — 'Pluto' — from the list of planets. Two of these will use the method pop.
2. Write code to insert 'Asteroid belt' between 'Mars' and 'Jupiter'.

## Summary¶

• Lists are sequences of values, allowing these values to be collected and processed together.
• Individual values can be accessed and changed through indexing.
• Functions and methods can be used to return important properties of lists like min(), max(), sum().
• Functions and methods can be also used to modify lists, but not return anything.