How to Find the Length of List in Python | Ways to Find Length of List

Python is in high demand among software developers and data scientists around the world. This programming language has various data types and six of them in particular for storing sequences. These include List, Number, String, Dictionary, and Tuple. In this tutorial, we will understand what are Python lists and also look at how to find the length of a list in Python

Python Lists Explained

Lists are considered the most reliable ways of saving items in a sequence in Python. They let you store a single variable with multiple items in it. Here is a simple example:

samplelist = [ “umbrella”, “raincoat”, “boots” ]


As you can see, you just have to use square brackets to create a list in Python. Moreover, the items are ordered in a definite series. You can include duplicate items in a Python list and also update items as per your needs. Each item of the list has an index, starting from 0. For more clarity, we have listed the starting index numbers below:

  • First item: 0
  • Second item: 1
  • Third item: 2

In the context of the example mentioned earlier, the index number for the elements are:

  • umbrella: 0
  • raincoat: 1
  • boots: 2

If you wanted to make any changes to the sample list, like add or remove specific elements, you would refer to these index numbers. 

Lists differ from arrays as they offer a more compact and efficient way of storing a large number of elements. While arrays involve numerical operations, you do not have to perform a direct mathematical activity with lists.

Now, let us discuss how to determine the length or size of a list in Python

Length of a list in Python

With length or size, we mean the number of items in the Python list. You can measure if with a simple len() function. Look at the following demonstration:

samplelist = [ “pen”, pencil”, “brush”, “notebook” ]

print (len(samplelist))

# Output: 4

This is the most conventional technique used by Python programmers to find a list’s length. However, there exist other methods as well. Let’s go into more detail. 

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  • The Naive Method

This method involves running a loop and increasing the counter. This is done until the list’s last element. In the absence of other efficient strategies, this technique offers a convenient option to know the count of a Python list. Here’s how it works:

MyList = [ "Bye", "Friends", 4, 5, 6]
print ("This list is : " + str(MyList))
counter = 0
for i in MyList:
counter = counter + 1
print ("Length of list with naive is: " + are (counter))


This list is: ["Bye", "Friends", 4, 5, 6]
Length of list with naive is: 5

List comprehension

How to find the length of list in python? To find the length of a list in Python, you can use the built-in len() function. Python’s list comprehension function makes list construction quick and easy. Let’s look at an example:

my_list = ["apple", "banana", "orange"]
length = len([item for item in my_list])
print("Length of the list:", length)


Length of the list: 3


The size of list in python relates to its many entries. The ‘len()’ function, the naive approach, and the ‘length_hint()’ method are popular ones. Still, several more elements of determining the length of a list may be investigated. By understanding how to find the length of list in python, one can easily handle large datasets with more accuracy and efficiency.

Built-in `list` object attribute

Python has a built-in attribute named ‘__len__’ for objects of the ‘list’ class and the ‘len()’ method for length measurement. For instance:

   sample_list = ['apple', 'banana', 'cherry']
   length = sample_list.__len__()  # Accessing the __len__ attribute
   print(length)  # Output: 3

It’s crucial to remember that the ‘len()’ method is typically preferable because of its simplicity and readability.

Custom implementation

You can develop your function to determine a list’s length; however, doing so is generally not advised. This strategy offers flexibility to add more logic as necessary. Here is an illustration of a unique implementation:

   def calculate_length(lst):
       count = 0
       for _ in lst:
           count += 1
       return count
   sample_list = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
   length = calculate_length(sample_list)
   print(length)  # Output: 5

However, compared to writing a custom function, utilizing the built-in ‘len()’ method is typically quicker and more concise.

Time complexity considerations

The temporal difficulty of determining the length becomes important when working with lengthy lists. It always takes the same time to calculate the length using the built-in ‘len()’ function, regardless of the size of list in python. This is so that Python may preserve the length as a direct-access property of the list object.

  • The length_hint() approach

This method is relatively lesser known than the other two techniques. It is defined in the operator class in Python and tells us about the element count in the following manner.

First, you need to import the len() and length_hint functions from the operator. Then, implement the code given below.

#Sample code for length of list using length_hint
#Initialize list
TestList = ["Winner", 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
#Print list
print ("python list is: " + str(test_list))
#Find length of python list 
list_len = length_hint(TestList)
#Print length of list
print ("Length of list with length_hint method is: " + str(list_len)


python list is: ["Winner", 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
Length of list with length_hint methods is: 6

With this, we have given you three different ways in which you can count the number of elements of a Python list, namely len() function, naive method, and length_hint technique. Here is a comparison of the three alternatives based on the time taken to deliver the list count in Python

Once again, you need to import length_hint and time from the operator. After that, you can use this sample code to analyze the performance of each method:

# Initialize list  
final_list = [1, 3, 5, 7, 9]
# Print test_list 
print ("My python list is : " + str(final_list)) 
# Find length of list using naive
# Initialize counter 
begin_time_naive = time.time() 
counter = 0
for i in final_list: 
    # increment the counter 
    counter = counter + 1
end_time_naive = str(time.time() - begin_time_naive) 
# Find length of list with len()
begin_time_len = time.time() 
list_len = len(final_list) 
end_time_len = str(time.time() - start_time_len) 
# Find length of list with length_hint() 
begin_time_hint = time.time() 
list_len_hint = length_hint(final_list) 
end_time_hint = str(time.time() - begin_time_hint)
# Print time
print ("Time using naive is : " + end_time_naive) 
print ("Time using len() is : " + end_time_len) 
print ("Time using length_hint() is : " + end_time_hint) 

The output will show that the len() method is the fastest one out of the three ways of finding the size of list in Python.

In Python, determining a list’s length is an important task in various programming situations. The number of elements in a list determines how long it is. Understanding your data’s size and scope can help you allocate memory wisely, grasp the scope of the list’s actions, and conduct them effectively.

When utilizing loops to repeatedly iterate over a list’s elements, accessing individual items by their indices, or determining if the list is empty, knowing the length of the list is crucial. You may efficiently alter and analyze your data by using this method to understand its structure and makeup. The python array length is determined by the len() function. To determine the length of an array, simply pass it as an argument to the len() 

The len() method is a built-in feature of Python that may be used to determine the python list size. It is a flexible, simple approach that often yields reliable results. You may get the list’s element count as an integer by supplying the list as an input to len(). The python list size can then be used for further programming tasks. 

It might be useful in some circumstances to be aware of alternate methods, like using libraries like numpy or pandas. These libraries ‘ specialized functions offer optimum efficiency when working with huge datasets or carrying out intricate calculations on python array length or data frames.

Increase the effectiveness and readability of your code by comprehending and using the many ways to determine a python array length. Understanding how to find the length enables you to deal with lists more efficiently and realize the full potential of your data.

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In this tutorial, we learned about the list data type with a special focus on how to find its size. This information on measuring the length of the list in Python is one of the most basic operations you would do as a beginner. So, use the above steps to level up our programming skills and stay curious for more! 

Explain the length_hint() method of Python?

The length_hint() method is not a popular method as the len() method is quite efficient to be replaced with any other method. However, this method is far better than the naive approach since it shows a better time complexity. The length_hint() method is a function of the operator module that must be imported in order to use this. This function also tells you what elements are in the list.

When are lists preferred over other data structures?

The list data structure is preferred for storing data in the following scenarios:
1. Lists are considered when the data to be inserted is heterogeneous i.e., the elements are of different types.
2. When the data is smaller, lists are preferred to store it since it will be less optimized for the larger data set.
3. A list is considered more suitable for operations like insertion and deletion since a list is resizeable and does not need the size to be specified during initialization.
4. You can use a list to store the data when there is no need to operate mathematical operations on the elements.

What are the characteristics of the list data structure in Python?

Lists are one of the most common built-in data structures supported in Python. They are largely used in databases. Lists that have the following characteristics:
1. The data stored in lists can be modified or mutated after initializing it.
2. Lists store the data in an ordered format and the elements stored can be easily accessed using their indices.
3. Lists can also store data belonging to different data types, eg. {1, “hello”, TRUE}.
4. The list provides built-in methods to perform various operations such as slicing and splitting.
5. When the data includes elements of string type, then list data structures prove to be quite efficient as they support all string operations such as concatenation operation.

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