python – How to take the first N items from a generator or list?

The Question :

342 people think this question is useful

With linq I would

var top5 = array.Take(5);

How to do this with Python?

The Question Comments :
  • It is confusing that this question was asked for both lists and generators, these should have been separate questions

The Answer 1

557 people think this answer is useful

Slicing a list

top5 = array[:5]

  • To slice a list, there’s a simple syntax: array[start:stop:step]
  • You can omit any parameter. These are all valid: array[start:], array[:stop], array[::step]

Slicing a generator

 import itertools
 top5 = itertools.islice(my_list, 5) # grab the first five elements

  • You can’t slice a generator directly in Python. itertools.islice() will wrap an object in a new slicing generator using the syntax itertools.islice(generator, start, stop, step)

  • Remember, slicing a generator will exhaust it partially. If you want to keep the entire generator intact, perhaps turn it into a tuple or list first, like: result = tuple(generator)

The Answer 2

123 people think this answer is useful
import itertools

top5 = itertools.islice(array, 5)

The Answer 3

40 people think this answer is useful

In my taste, it’s also very concise to combine zip() with xrange(n) (or range(n) in Python3), which works nice on generators as well and seems to be more flexible for changes in general.

# Option #1: taking the first n elements as a list
[x for _, x in zip(xrange(n), generator)]

# Option #2, using 'next()' and taking care for 'StopIteration'
[next(generator) for _ in xrange(n)]

# Option #3: taking the first n elements as a new generator
(x for _, x in zip(xrange(n), generator))

# Option #4: yielding them by simply preparing a function
# (but take care for 'StopIteration')
def top_n(n, generator):
    for _ in xrange(n): yield next(generator)

The Answer 4

37 people think this answer is useful

@Shaikovsky’s answer is excellent (…and heavily edited since I posted this answer), but I wanted to clarify a couple of points.

[next(generator) for _ in range(n)]

This is the most simple approach, but throws StopIteration if the generator is prematurely exhausted.


On the other hand, the following approaches return up to n items which is preferable in many circumstances:

List: [x for _, x in zip(range(n), records)]

Generator: (x for _, x in zip(range(n), records))

The Answer 5

14 people think this answer is useful

The answer for how to do this can be found here

>>> generator = (i for i in xrange(10))
>>> list(next(generator) for _ in range(4))
[0, 1, 2, 3]
>>> list(next(generator) for _ in range(4))
[4, 5, 6, 7]
>>> list(next(generator) for _ in range(4))
[8, 9]

Notice that the last call asks for the next 4 when only 2 are remaining. The use of the list() instead of [] is what gets the comprehension to terminate on the StopIteration exception that is thrown by next().

The Answer 6

7 people think this answer is useful

Do you mean the first N items, or the N largest items?

If you want the first:

top5 = sequence[:5]

This also works for the largest N items, assuming that your sequence is sorted in descending order. (Your LINQ example seems to assume this as well.)

If you want the largest, and it isn’t sorted, the most obvious solution is to sort it first:

l = list(sequence)
l.sort(reverse=True)
top5 = l[:5]

For a more performant solution, use a min-heap (thanks Thijs):

import heapq
top5 = heapq.nlargest(5, sequence)

The Answer 7

3 people think this answer is useful

With itertools you will obtain another generator object so in most of the cases you will need another step the take the first N elements (N). There are at least two simpler solutions (a little bit less efficient in terms of performance but very handy) to get the elements ready to use from a generator:

Using list comprehension:

first_N_element=[generator.next() for i in range(N)]

Otherwise:

first_N_element=list(generator)[:N]

Where N is the number of elements you want to take (e.g. N=5 for the first five elements).

The Answer 8

-5 people think this answer is useful

This should work

top5 = array[:5] 

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