Making a flat list out of list of lists in Python

Emma Source

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

I can do that in a for loop, but maybe there is some cool "one-liner"? I tried it with reduce, but I get an error.

Code

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'
pythonlistmultidimensional-arrayflatten

Answers

answered 9 years ago Greg Hewgill #1

from functools import reduce #python 3

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

The extend() method in your example modifies x instead of returning a useful value (which reduce() expects).

A faster way to do the reduce version would be

>>> import operator
>>> l = [[1,2,3],[4,5,6], [7], [8,9]]
>>> reduce(operator.concat, l)
[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]

answered 9 years ago Triptych #2

Note from the author: This is inefficient. But fun, because monads are awesome. It's not appropriate for production Python code.

>>> sum(l, [])
[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]

This just sums the elements of iterable passed in the first argument, treating second argument as the initial value of the sum (if not given, 0 is used instead and this case will give you an error).

Because you are summing nested lists, you actually get [1,3]+[2,4] as a result of sum([[1,3],[2,4]],[]), which is equal to [1,3,2,4].

Note that only works on lists of lists. For lists of lists of lists, you'll need another solution.

answered 9 years ago Alex Martelli #3

flat_list = [item for sublist in l for item in sublist]

which means:

for sublist in l:
    for item in sublist:
        flat_list.append(item)

is faster than the shortcuts posted so far. (l is the list to flatten.)

Here is a the corresponding function:

flatten = lambda l: [item for sublist in l for item in sublist]

For evidence, as always, you can use the timeit module in the standard library:

$ python -mtimeit -s'l=[[1,2,3],[4,5,6], [7], [8,9]]*99' '[item for sublist in l for item in sublist]'
10000 loops, best of 3: 143 usec per loop
$ python -mtimeit -s'l=[[1,2,3],[4,5,6], [7], [8,9]]*99' 'sum(l, [])'
1000 loops, best of 3: 969 usec per loop
$ python -mtimeit -s'l=[[1,2,3],[4,5,6], [7], [8,9]]*99' 'reduce(lambda x,y: x+y,l)'
1000 loops, best of 3: 1.1 msec per loop

Explanation: the shortcuts based on + (including the implied use in sum) are, of necessity, O(L**2) when there are L sublists -- as the intermediate result list keeps getting longer, at each step a new intermediate result list object gets allocated, and all the items in the previous intermediate result must be copied over (as well as a few new ones added at the end). So (for simplicity and without actual loss of generality) say you have L sublists of I items each: the first I items are copied back and forth L-1 times, the second I items L-2 times, and so on; total number of copies is I times the sum of x for x from 1 to L excluded, i.e., I * (L**2)/2.

The list comprehension just generates one list, once, and copies each item over (from its original place of residence to the result list) also exactly once.

answered 9 years ago Andrea Ambu #4

Why do you use extend?

reduce(lambda x, y: x+y, l)

This should work fine.

answered 9 years ago Nadia Alramli #5

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

The sum version is still running for more than a minute and it hasn't done processing yet!

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

answered 9 years ago Igor Krivokon #6

The reason your function didn't work: the extend extends array in-place and doesn't return it. You can still return x from lambda, using some trick:

reduce(lambda x,y: x.extend(y) or x, l)

Note: extend is more efficient than + on lists.

answered 9 years ago Shawn Chin #7

You can use itertools.chain():

>>> import itertools
>>> list2d = [[1,2,3],[4,5,6], [7], [8,9]]
>>> merged = list(itertools.chain(*list2d))

or, on Python >=2.6, use itertools.chain.from_iterable() which doesn't require unpacking the list:

>>> import itertools
>>> list2d = [[1,2,3],[4,5,6], [7], [8,9]]
>>> merged = list(itertools.chain.from_iterable(list2d))

This approach is arguably more readable than [item for sublist in l for item in sublist] and appears to be faster too:

[[email protected]]$ python -mtimeit -s'l=[[1,2,3],[4,5,6], [7], [8,9]]*99;import itertools' 'list(itertools.chain.from_iterable(l))'
10000 loops, best of 3: 24.2 usec per loop
[[email protected]]$ python -mtimeit -s'l=[[1,2,3],[4,5,6], [7], [8,9]]*99' '[item for sublist in l for item in sublist]'
10000 loops, best of 3: 45.2 usec per loop
[[email protected]]$ python -mtimeit -s'l=[[1,2,3],[4,5,6], [7], [8,9]]*99' 'sum(l, [])'
1000 loops, best of 3: 488 usec per loop
[[email protected]]$ python -mtimeit -s'l=[[1,2,3],[4,5,6], [7], [8,9]]*99' 'reduce(lambda x,y: x+y,l)'
1000 loops, best of 3: 522 usec per loop
[[email protected]]$ python --version
Python 2.7.3

answered 2 years ago mdh #8

One can also use NumPy's flat:

import numpy as np
list(np.array(l).flat)

Edit 11/02/2016: Only works when sublists have identical dimensions.

answered 2 years ago Meitham #9

There seems to be a confusion with operator.add! When you add two lists together, the correct term for that is concat, not add. operator.concat is what you need to use.

If you're thinking functional, it is as easy as this::

>>> list2d = ((1, 2, 3), (4, 5, 6), (7,), (8, 9))
>>> reduce(operator.concat, list2d)
(1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

You see reduce respects the sequence type, so when you supply a tuple, you get back a tuple. let's try with a list::

>>> list2d = [[1, 2, 3],[4, 5, 6], [7], [8, 9]]
>>> reduce(operator.concat, list2d)
[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]

Aha, you get back a list.

How about performance::

>>> list2d = [[1, 2, 3],[4, 5, 6], [7], [8, 9]]
>>> %timeit list(itertools.chain.from_iterable(list2d))
1000000 loops, best of 3: 1.36 µs per loop

from_iterable is pretty fast! But it's no comparison to reduce with concat.

>>> list2d = ((1, 2, 3),(4, 5, 6), (7,), (8, 9))
>>> %timeit reduce(operator.concat, list2d)
1000000 loops, best of 3: 492 ns per loop

answered 2 years ago Anil #10

def flatten(l, a):
    for i in l:
        if isinstance(i, list):
            flatten(i, a)
        else:
            a.append(i)
    return a

print(flatten([[[1, [1,1, [3, [4,5,]]]], 2, 3], [4, 5],6], []))

# [1, 1, 1, 3, 4, 5, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]

answered 2 years ago mkultra #11

If you are willing to give up a tiny amount of speed for a cleaner look, then you could use numpy.concatenate().tolist() or numpy.concatenate().ravel().tolist():

import numpy

l = [[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6], [7], [8, 9]] * 99

%timeit numpy.concatenate(l).ravel().tolist()
1000 loops, best of 3: 313 µs per loop

%timeit numpy.concatenate(l).tolist()
1000 loops, best of 3: 312 µs per loop

%timeit [item for sublist in l for item in sublist]
1000 loops, best of 3: 31.5 µs per loop

You can find out more here in the docs numpy.concatenate and numpy.ravel

answered 2 years ago Deleet #12

An bad feature of Anil's function above is that it requires the user to always manually specify the second argument to be an empty list []. This should instead be a default. Due to the way Python objects work, these should be set inside the function, not in the arguments.

Here's a working function:

def list_flatten(l, a=None):
    #check a
    if a is None:
        #initialize with empty list
        a = []

    for i in l:
        if isinstance(i, list):
            list_flatten(i, a)
        else:
            a.append(i)
    return a

Testing:

In [2]: lst = [1, 2, [3], [[4]],[5,[6]]]

In [3]: lst
Out[3]: [1, 2, [3], [[4]], [5, [6]]]

In [11]: list_flatten(lst)
Out[11]: [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]

answered 2 years ago MSeifert #13

If you want to flatten a data-structure where you don't know how deep it's nested you could use iteration_utilities.deepflatten1

>>> from iteration_utilities import deepflatten

>>> l = [[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6], [7], [8, 9]]
>>> list(deepflatten(l, depth=1))
[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]

>>> l = [[1, 2, 3], [4, [5, 6]], 7, [8, 9]]
>>> list(deepflatten(l))
[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]

It's a generator so you need to cast the result to a list or explicitly iterate over it.


To flatten only one level and if each of the items is itself iterable you can also use iteration_utilities.flatten which itself is just a thin wrapper around itertools.chain.from_iterable:

>>> from iteration_utilities import flatten
>>> l = [[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6], [7], [8, 9]]
>>> list(flatten(l))
[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]

Just to add some timings (based on Nico Schlömer answer that didn't include the function presented in this answer):

enter image description here

It's a log-log plot to accommodate for the huge range of values spanned. For qualitative reasoning: Lower is better.

The results show that if the iterable contains only a few inner iterables then sum will be fastest, however for long iterables only the itertools.chain.from_iterable, iteration_utilities.deepflatten or the nested comprehension have reasonable performance with itertools.chain.from_iterable being the fastest (as already noticed by Nico Schlömer).

from itertools import chain
from functools import reduce
from collections import Iterable  # or from collections.abc import Iterable
import operator
from iteration_utilities import deepflatten

def nested_list_comprehension(lsts):
    return [item for sublist in lsts for item in sublist]

def itertools_chain_from_iterable(lsts):
    return list(chain.from_iterable(lsts))

def pythons_sum(lsts):
    return sum(lsts, [])

def reduce_add(lsts):
    return reduce(lambda x, y: x + y, lsts)

def pylangs_flatten(lsts):
    return list(flatten(lsts))

def flatten(items):
    """Yield items from any nested iterable; see REF."""
    for x in items:
        if isinstance(x, Iterable) and not isinstance(x, (str, bytes)):
            yield from flatten(x)
        else:
            yield x

def reduce_concat(lsts):
    return reduce(operator.concat, lsts)

def iteration_utilities_deepflatten(lsts):
    return list(deepflatten(lsts, depth=1))


from simple_benchmark import benchmark

b = benchmark(
    [nested_list_comprehension, itertools_chain_from_iterable, pythons_sum, reduce_add,
     pylangs_flatten, reduce_concat, iteration_utilities_deepflatten],
    arguments={2**i: [[0]*5]*(2**i) for i in range(1, 13)},
    argument_name='number of inner lists'
)

b.plot()

1 Disclaimer: I'm the author of that library

answered 2 years ago Canuck #14

Fastest solution I have found (for large list anyway):

import numpy as np
#turn list into an array and flatten()
np.array(l).flatten()

Done! You can of course turn it back into a list by executing list(l)

answered 2 years ago pylang #15

Here is a general approach that applies to numbers, strings, nested lists and mixed containers.

Code

from collections import Iterable


def flatten(items):
    """Yield items from any nested iterable; see Reference."""
    for x in items:
        if isinstance(x, Iterable) and not isinstance(x, (str, bytes)):
            for sub_x in flatten(x):
                yield sub_x
        else:
            yield x

Note: in Python 3, yield from flatten(x) can replace for sub_x in flatten(x): yield sub_x

Demo

lst = [[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6], [7], [8, 9]]
list(flatten(lst))                                         # nested lists
# [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]

mixed = [[1, [2]], (3, 4, {5, 6}, 7), 8, "9"]              # numbers, strs, nested & mixed
list(flatten(mixed))
# [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, '9']

Reference

  • This solution is modified from a recipe in Beazley, D. and B. Jones. Recipe 4.14, Python Cookbook 3rd Ed., O'Reilly Media Inc. Sebastopol, CA: 2013.
  • Found an earlier SO post, possibly the original demonstration.

answered 2 years ago pylang #16

Consider installing the more_itertools package.

> pip install more_itertools

It ships with an implementation for flatten (source, from the itertools recipes):

import more_itertools


lst = [[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6], [7], [8, 9]]
list(more_itertools.flatten(lst))
# [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]

As of version 2.4, you can flatten more complicated, nested iterables with more_itertools.collapse (source, contributed by abarnet).

lst = [[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6], [7], [8, 9]]
list(more_itertools.collapse(lst)) 
# [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]

lst = [[1, 2, 3], [[4, 5, 6]], [[[7]]], 8, 9]              # complex nesting
list(more_itertools.collapse(lst))
# [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]

answered 2 years ago Kevin Postal #17

Cleaned up @Deleet example

from collections import Iterable

def flatten(l, a=[]):
    for i in l:
        if isinstance(i, Iterable):
            flatten(i, a)
        else:
            a.append(i)
    return a

daList = [[1,4],[5,6],[23,22,234,2],[2], [ [[1,2],[1,2]],[[11,2],[11,22]] ] ]

print(flatten(daList))

Example: https://repl.it/G8mb/0

answered 2 years ago Vu Anh #18

Simple code for underscore.py package fan

from underscore import _
_.flatten([[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6], [7], [8, 9]])
# [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]

It solves all flatten problems (none list item or complex nesting)

from underscore import _
# 1 is none list item
# [2, [3]] is complex nesting
_.flatten([1, [2, [3]], [4, 5, 6], [7], [8, 9]])
# [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]

You can install underscore.py with pip

pip install underscore.py

answered 1 year ago devil in the detail #19

Following seem simplest to me:

>>> import numpy as np
>>> l = [[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6], [7], [8, 9]]
>>> print (np.concatenate(l))
[1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9]

answered 1 year ago Nico Schlömer #20

I tested most suggested solutions with perfplot (a pet project of mine, essentially a wrapper around timeit), and found

list(itertools.chain.from_iterable(a))

to be the fastest solution (if more than 10 lists are concatenated).

enter image description here


Code to reproduce the plot:

import functools
import itertools
import numpy
import operator
import perfplot


def forfor(a):
    return [item for sublist in a for item in sublist]


def sum_brackets(a):
    return sum(a, [])


def functools_reduce(a):
    return functools.reduce(operator.concat, a)


def itertools_chain(a):
    return list(itertools.chain.from_iterable(a))


def numpy_flat(a):
    return list(numpy.array(a).flat)


def numpy_concatenate(a):
    return list(numpy.concatenate(a))


perfplot.show(
    setup=lambda n: [list(range(10))] * n,
    kernels=[
        forfor, sum_brackets, functools_reduce, itertools_chain, numpy_flat,
        numpy_concatenate
        ],
    n_range=[2**k for k in range(16)],
    logx=True,
    logy=True,
    xlabel='num lists'
    )

answered 1 year ago englealuze #21

def flatten(alist):
    if alist == []:
        return []
    elif type(alist) is not list:
        return [alist]
    else:
        return flatten(alist[0]) + flatten(alist[1:])

answered 1 year ago Jon #22

I recently came across a situation where I had a mix of strings and numeric data in sublists such as

test = ['591212948',
['special', 'assoc', 'of', 'Chicago', 'Jon', 'Doe'],
['Jon'],
['Doe'],
['fl'],
92001,
555555555,
'hello',
['hello2', 'a'],
'b',
['hello33', ['z', 'w'], 'b']]

where methods like flat_list = [item for sublist in test for item in sublist] have not worked. So, I came up with the following solution for 1+ level of sublists

def concatList(data):
    results = []
    for rec in data:
        if type(rec) == list:
            results += rec
            results = concatList(results)
        else:
            results.append(rec)
    return results

And the result

In [38]: concatList(test)
Out[38]:
 Out[60]:
['591212948',
'special',
'assoc',
'of',
'Chicago',
'Jon',
'Doe',
'Jon',
'Doe',
'fl',
92001,
555555555,
'hello',
'hello2',
'a',
'b',
'hello33',
'z',
'w',
'b']

answered 12 months ago FredMan #23

You can avoid recursive calls to the stack using an actual stack data structure pretty simply.

alist = [1,[1,2],[1,2,[4,5,6],3, "33"]]
newlist = []

while len(alist) > 0 :
  templist = alist.pop()
  if type(templist) == type(list()) :
    while len(templist) > 0 :
      temp = templist.pop()
      if type(temp) == type(list()) :
        for x in temp :
          templist.append(x)
      else :
        newlist.append(temp)
  else :
    newlist.append(templist)
print(list(reversed(newlist)))

answered 10 months ago Chweng Mega #24

Isn't it the most obvious solution😂
fList = eval('[' + str(l).replace('[','').replace(']','') + ']') # Just for fun

answered 9 months ago tharndt #25

Another unusual approach that works for hetero- and homogeneous lists of integers:

from typing import List


def flatten(l: list) -> List[int]:
    """Flatten an arbitrary deep nested list of lists of integers.

    Examples:
        >>> flatten([1, 2, [1, [10]]])
        [1, 2, 1, 10]

    Args:
        l: Union[l, Union[int, List[int]]

    Returns:
        Flatted list of integer
    """
    return [int(i.strip('[ ]')) for i in str(l).split(',')]

answered 9 months ago bli #26

This can be done using toolz.concat or cytoolz.concat (cythonized version, that could be faster in some cases):

from cytoolz import concat
l = [[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6], [7], [8, 9]]
list(concat(l)) # or just `concat(l)` if one only wants to iterate over the items

On my computer, in python 3.6, this seems to time almost as fast as [item for sublist in l for item in sublist] (not counting the import time):

In [611]: %timeit L = [item for sublist in l for item in sublist]
695 ns ± 2.75 ns per loop (mean ± std. dev. of 7 runs, 1000000 loops each)

In [612]: %timeit L = [item for sublist in l for item in sublist]
701 ns ± 5.5 ns per loop (mean ± std. dev. of 7 runs, 1000000 loops each)

In [613]: %timeit L = list(concat(l))
719 ns ± 12 ns per loop (mean ± std. dev. of 7 runs, 1000000 loops each)

In [614]: %timeit L = list(concat(l))
719 ns ± 22.9 ns per loop (mean ± std. dev. of 7 runs, 1000000 loops each)

The toolz version is indeed slower:

In [618]: from toolz import concat

In [619]: %timeit L = list(concat(l))
845 ns ± 29 ns per loop (mean ± std. dev. of 7 runs, 1000000 loops each)

In [620]: %timeit L = list(concat(l))
833 ns ± 8.73 ns per loop (mean ± std. dev. of 7 runs, 1000000 loops each)

answered 8 months ago EL_DON #27

matplotlib.cbook.flatten() will work for nested lists even if they nest more deeply than the example.

import matplotlib
l = [[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6], [7], [8, 9]]
print(list(matplotlib.cbook.flatten(l)))
l2 = [[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6], [7], [8, [9, 10, [11, 12, [13]]]]]
print list(matplotlib.cbook.flatten(l2))

Result:

[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]
[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]

This is 18x faster than underscore._.flatten:

Average time over 1000 trials of matplotlib.cbook.flatten: 2.55e-05 sec
Average time over 1000 trials of underscore._.flatten: 4.63e-04 sec
(time for underscore._)/(time for matplotlib.cbook) = 18.1233394636

answered 8 months ago Brad Solomon #28

Note: Below applies to Python 3.3+ because it uses yield_from. six is also a third-party package, though it is stable. Alternately, you could use sys.version.


In the case of obj = [[1, 2,], [3, 4], [5, 6]], all of the solutions here are good, including list comprehension and itertools.chain.from_iterable.

However, consider this slightly more complex case:

>>> obj = [[1, 2, 3], [4, 5], 6, 'abc', [7], [8, [9, 10]]]

There are several problems here:

  • One element, 6, is just a scalar; it's not iterable, so the above routes will fail here.
  • One element, 'abc', is technically iterable (all strs are). However, reading between the lines a bit, you don't want to treat it as such--you want to treat it as a single element.
  • The final element, [8, [9, 10]] is itself a nested iterable. Basic list comprehension and chain.from_iterable only extract "1 level down."

You can remedy this as follows:

>>> from collections import Iterable
>>> from six import string_types

>>> def flatten(obj):
...     for i in obj:
...         if isinstance(i, Iterable) and not isinstance(i, string_types):
...             yield from flatten(i)
...         else:
...             yield i


>>> list(flatten(obj))
[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 'abc', 7, 8, 9, 10]

Here, you check that the sub-element (1) is iterable with Iterable, an ABC from itertools, but also want to ensure that (2) the element is not "string-like."

answered 7 months ago ASz #29

I think the easiest way and universal is to write recursive function like this:

def flat_list(some_list = []):
elements=[]
for item in some_list:
    if type(item) == type([]):
        elements += flat_list(item)
    else:
        elements.append(item)
return elements

list =  ['a', 'b', 1, 2, 3, [1, 2, 3, 'c',[112,123,111,[1234,1111,3333,44444]]]]
flat_list(list)

>>> ['a', 'b', 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 'c', 112, 123, 111, 1234, 1111, 3333, 44444]

answered 5 months ago phoxis #30

This may not be the most efficient way but I thought to put a one-liner (actually a two-liner). Both versions will work on arbitrary hierarchy nested lists, and exploits language features (Python3.5) and recursion.

def make_list_flat (l):
    flist = []
    flist.extend ([l]) if (type (l) is not list) else [flist.extend (make_list_flat (e)) for e in l]
    return flist

a = [[1, 2], [[[[3, 4, 5], 6]]], 7, [8, [9, [10, 11], 12, [13, 14, [15, [[16, 17], 18]]]]]]
flist = make_list_flat(a)
print (flist)

The output is

[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18]

This works in a depth first manner. The recursion goes down until it finds a non-list element, then extends the local variable flist and then rolls back it to the parent. Whenever flist is returned, it is extended to the parent's flist in the list comprehension. Therefore, at the root, a flat list is returned.

The above one creates several local lists and returns them which are used to extend the parent's list. I think the way around for this may be creating a gloabl flist, like below.

a = [[1, 2], [[[[3, 4, 5], 6]]], 7, [8, [9, [10, 11], 12, [13, 14, [15, [[16, 17], 18]]]]]]
flist = []
def make_list_flat (l):
    flist.extend ([l]) if (type (l) is not list) else [make_list_flat (e) for e in l]

make_list_flat(a)
print (flist)

The output is again

[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18]

Although I am not sure at this time about the efficiency.

answered 4 months ago Paritosh Yadav #31

Use list comprehension:

mylist = [item for sublist in l for item in sublist]

answered 4 months ago Deepak Yadav #32

flat_list = []
for i in list_of_list:
    flat_list+=i

This Code also works fine as it just extend the list all the way. Although it is much similar but only have one for loop. So It have less complexity than adding 2 for loops.

answered 4 months ago abhi krishnan #33

We can do the same in, Using the basic concepts of python

nested_list=[10,20,[30,40,[50]],[80,[10,[20]],90],60]
flat_list=[]
def unpack(list1):
    for item in list1:
        try:
            len(item)
            unpack(item)
        except:
            flat_list.append(item)
unpack(nested_list)
print (flat_list)

answered 3 months ago A. Attia #34

You can use numpy :
flat_list = list(np.concatenate(list_of_list))

answered 4 weeks ago hash_purple #35

A simple recursive method using reduce from functools and the add operator on lists:

>>> from functools import reduce
>>> from operator import add
>>> flatten = lambda lst: [lst] if type(lst) is int else reduce(add, [flatten(ele) for ele in lst])
>>> flatten(l)
[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]

The function flatten takes in lst as parameter. It loops all the elements of lst until reaching integers (can also change int to float, str, etc. for other data types), which are added to the return value of the outermost recursion.

Recursion, unlike methods like for loops and monads, is that it is a general solution not limited by the list depth. For example, a list with depth of 5 can be flattened the same way as l:

>>> l2 = [[3, [1, 2], [[[6], 5], 4, 0], 7, [[8]], [9, 10]]]
>>> flatten(l2)
[3, 1, 2, 6, 5, 4, 0, 7, 8, 9, 10]

answered 3 weeks ago user9074332 #36

The accepted answer did not work for me when dealing with text-based lists of variable lengths. Here is an alternate approach that did work for me.

l = ['aaa', 'bb', 'cccccc', ['xx', 'yyyyyyy']]

Accepted answer that did not work:

flat_list = [item for sublist in l for item in sublist]
print(flat_list)
['a', 'a', 'a', 'b', 'b', 'c', 'c', 'c', 'c', 'c', 'c', 'xx', 'yyyyyyy']

New proposed solution that did work for me:

flat_list = []
_ = [flat_list.extend(item) if isinstance(item, list) else flat_list.append(item) for item in l if item]
print(flat_list)
['aaa', 'bb', 'cccccc', 'xx', 'yyyyyyy']

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