# A Tutorial Introduction to the Python Programming Language

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## Lists and Tuples

Just as strings are sequences of characters, lists and tuples are sequences of arbitrary objects. You create a list as follows:

`names = [ "Dave", "Mark", "Ann", "Phil" ]`

Lists are indexed by integers starting with zero. Use the indexing operator to access and modify individual items of the list:

```a = names[2]       # Returns the third item of the list, "Ann"
names[0] = "Jeff"    # Changes the first item to "Jeff"```

The length of a list can be obtained using the len() function:

`print len(names)    # prints 4`

To append new items to a list, use the append() method:

`names.append("Kate")`

To insert an item into the list, use the insert() method:

`names.insert(2, "Sydney")`

You can extract or reassign a portion of a list by using the slicing operator:

```# Returns [ "Jeff", "Mark" ]
b = names[0:2]

# Returns [ "Sydney", "Ann", "Phil", "Kate" ]
c = names[2:]

# Replace the 2nd item in names with 'Jeff'
names[1] = 'Jeff'

# Replace the first two items of the list with
# the list on the right
names[0:2] = ['Dave','Mark','Jeff']```

Use the plus (+) operator to concatenate lists:

`a = [1,2,3] + [4,5]   # Result is [1,2,3,4,5]`

Lists can contain any kind of Python object, including other lists, as in the following example:

`a = [1,"Dave",3.14, ["Mark", 7, 9, [100,101]], 10]`

Nested lists are accessed as follows:

```a[1]      # Returns "Dave"
a[3][2]     # Returns 9
a[3][3][1]   # Returns 101```

The program in Listing 2 illustrates a few more advanced features of lists by reading a list of numbers from a file and outputting the minimum and maximum values.

#### Listing 2 Advanced List Features

```import sys            # Load the sys module
f = open(sys.argv[1])      # Filename on the command line
svalues = f.readlines()     # Read all lines into a list
f.close()

# Convert all of the input values from strings to floats
fvalues = [float(s) for s in svalues]

# Print min and max values
print "The minimum value is ", min(fvalues)
print "The maximum value is ", max(fvalues)```

The first line of this program uses the import statement to load the sys module from the Python library.

The open() method uses a filename that has been supplied as a command-line option and stored in the list sys.argv. The readlines() method reads all the input lines into a list of strings.

The expression [float(s) for s in svalues] constructs a new list by looping over all the strings in the list svalues and applying the function float() to each element. This particularly powerful method of constructing a list is known as a list comprehension.

After the input lines have been converted into a list of floating-point numbers, the built-in min() and max() functions compute the minimum and maximum values.

Closely related to lists is the tuple datatype. You create tuples by enclosing a group of values in parentheses or with a comma-separated list, like this:

```a = (1,4,5,-9,10)
b = (7,)                 # Singleton (note extra ,)
person = (first_name, last_name, phone)```

Sometimes Python recognizes that a tuple is intended even if the parentheses are missing:

```a = 1,4,5,-9,10
b = 7,
person = first_name, last_name, phone```

Tuples support most of the same operations as lists, such as indexing, slicing, and concatenation. The only difference is that you cannot modify the contents of a tuple after creation. (That is, you cannot modify individual elements, or append new elements to a tuple.)

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