How Big can a Python List Get?


In Python, how big can a list get? I need a list of about 12000 elements. Will I still be able to run list methods such as sorting, etc?

2/26/2019 8:34:41 AM

Accepted Answer

According to the source code, the maximum size of a list is PY_SSIZE_T_MAX/sizeof(PyObject*).

PY_SSIZE_T_MAX is defined in pyport.h to be ((size_t) -1)>>1

On a regular 32bit system, this is (4294967295 / 2) / 4 or 536870912.

Therefore the maximum size of a python list on a 32 bit system is 536,870,912 elements.

As long as the number of elements you have is equal or below this, all list functions should operate correctly.

9/25/2017 10:22:19 AM

As the Python documentation says:


The largest positive integer supported by the platform’s Py_ssize_t type, and thus the maximum size lists, strings, dicts, and many other containers can have.

In my computer (Linux x86_64):

>>> import sys
>>> print sys.maxsize

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