python multidimensional array - How to make a flat list out of list of lists?

python multidimensional list append / python / list / multidimensional-array / flatten

I wonder whether there is a shortcut to make a simple list out of list of lists in Python.

l = [[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6], [7], [8, 9]]
reduce(lambda x, y: x.extend(y), l)

Error message

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <lambda>
AttributeError: 'NoneType' object has no attribute 'extend'

martineau



Answer #1

I take my statement back. sum is not the winner. Although it is faster when the list is small. But the performance degrades significantly with larger lists.

>>> timeit.Timer(
        '[item for sublist in l for item in sublist]',
        'l=[[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6, 7, 8], [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]] * 10000'
    ).timeit(100)
2.0440959930419922

For medium lists:

>>> timeit.Timer(
        '[item for sublist in l for item in sublist]',
        'l=[[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6, 7, 8], [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]] * 10'
    ).timeit()
20.126545906066895
>>> timeit.Timer(
        'reduce(lambda x,y: x+y,l)',
        'l=[[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6, 7, 8], [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]] * 10'
    ).timeit()
22.242258071899414
>>> timeit.Timer(
        'sum(l, [])',
        'l=[[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6, 7, 8], [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]] * 10'
    ).timeit()
16.449732065200806

Using small lists and timeit: number=1000000

>>> timeit.Timer(
        '[item for sublist in l for item in sublist]',
        'l=[[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6, 7, 8], [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]]'
    ).timeit()
2.4598159790039062
>>> timeit.Timer(
        'reduce(lambda x,y: x+y,l)',
        'l=[[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6, 7, 8], [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]]'
    ).timeit()
1.5289170742034912
>>> timeit.Timer(
        'sum(l, [])',
        'l=[[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6, 7, 8], [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]]'
    ).timeit()
1.0598428249359131