# 3.5: Lists and Tuples

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zip is a built-in function that takes two or more sequences and “zips” them into a list of tuples where each tuple contains one element from each sequence. In Python 3, zip returns an iterator of tuples, but for most purposes, an iterator behaves like a list.

This example zips a string and a list:

>>> s = 'abc'
>>> t = [0, 1, 2]
>>> zip(s, t)
[('a', 0), ('b', 1), ('c', 2)]


The result is a list of tuples where each tuple contains a character from the string and the corresponding element from the list.

If the sequences are not the same length, the result has the length of the shorter one.

>>> zip('Anne', 'Elk')
[('A', 'E'), ('n', 'l'), ('n', 'k')]


You can use tuple assignment in a for loop to traverse a list of tuples:

t = [('a', 0), ('b', 1), ('c', 2)]
for letter, number in t:
print number, letter


Each time through the loop, Python selects the next tuple in the list and assigns the elements to letter and number. The output of this loop is:

0 a
1 b
2 c


If you combine zip, for and tuple assignment, you get a useful idiom for traversing two (or more) sequences at the same time. For example, has_match takes two sequences, t1 and t2, and returns True if there is an index i such that t1[i] == t2[i]:

def has_match(t1, t2):
for x, y in zip(t1, t2):
if x == y:
return True
return False


If you need to traverse the elements of a sequence and their indices, you can use the built-in function enumerate:

for index, element in enumerate('abc'):
print index, element


The output of this loop is:

0 a
1 b
2 c


Again.

This page titled 3.5: Lists and Tuples is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Allen B. Downey (Green Tea Press) .