Numpy Arrays are faster and better than Python list- Comparison and Proof (With Example and code)

python Sep 01, 2019

In this blog post, we will find out why numpy array is faster than normal python list.

What is NumPy?

NumPy allows us for efficient manipulation of homogeneous numerical data in Python. This means it is computationally fast but the drawback is that the all the data has to be the same type. One of the main tools in NumPy is the multidimensional array also known as ndarray.

Nested Python lists can also be used to represent multidimensional data, so why do we need NumPy?and why numpy is fast?

Speed Test

Code snippet to check this

import numpy as np
import time
size = 1000000  #Size of array 
L1 = range(size)
L2 = range(size)

a1 = np.arange(size)  # decalre two arrays
a2 = np.arange(size)

## list
start = time.time()
result = [(x+y) for x,y in zip(L1 , L2)]
print("python list took :" ,(time.time()-start)*1000 )

## numpy array
start = time.time()
result = a1 + a2
print("numpy array took :" ,(time.time() - start)*1000)

# Rum this code to see the difference


python list took : 89.81657028198242

numpy array took : 13.30113410949707

Why this is happening

Reason : what makes numpy so fast

NumPy is written (mostly) in C which is a low-level language, makes it very fast. It hides all this complexity under an easy to use module of Python.

Looping over lists in Python is slow because the language itself is dynamically typed. This means that you do not have to specify a variables data type but every time Python uses a variable it has to check data type. Even though Python is also written in C, this bookkeeping makes it much slower than other low-level languages.

Numpy arrays are densely packed arrays of a homogeneous numerical data type. Python lists, by contrast, are arrays of pointers to objects, even when all of them are of the same type, memory is dynamically allocated. So, you get the benefits of locality of reference.

Operations in Numpy are much faster because they take advantage of parallelism (which is the case of Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD)), while traditional for loop can't make use of it.


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sheetala tiwari

I am passionate about Data Science and Machine Learning. I am currently building an AI community on DataDiscuss and we are committed to providing free access to education for everyone.