Creating an empty list in Python


Question

What is the best way to create a new empty list in Python?

l = [] 

or

l = list()

I am asking this because of two reasons:

  1. Technical reasons, as to which is faster. (creating a class causes overhead?)
  2. Code readability - which one is the standard convention.
1
223
3/23/2017 8:27:07 AM

Accepted Answer

Here is how you can test which piece of code is faster:

% python -mtimeit  "l=[]"
10000000 loops, best of 3: 0.0711 usec per loop

% python -mtimeit  "l=list()"
1000000 loops, best of 3: 0.297 usec per loop

However, in practice, this initialization is most likely an extremely small part of your program, so worrying about this is probably wrong-headed.

Readability is very subjective. I prefer [], but some very knowledgable people, like Alex Martelli, prefer list() because it is pronounceable.

304
5/23/2017 12:18:01 PM

list() is inherently slower than [], because

  1. there is symbol lookup (no way for python to know in advance if you did not just redefine list to be something else!),

  2. there is function invocation,

  3. then it has to check if there was iterable argument passed (so it can create list with elements from it) ps. none in our case but there is "if" check

In most cases the speed difference won't make any practical difference though.


Licensed under: CC-BY-SA with attribution
Not affiliated with: Stack Overflow
Icon