What is the difference between range and xrange functions in Python 2.X?

Question:

Apparently xrange is faster but I have no idea why it’s faster (and no proof besides the anecdotal so far that it is faster) or what besides that is different about

for i in range(0, 20):
for i in xrange(0, 20):
Asked By: Teifion

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Answers:

See this post to find difference between range and xrange:

To quote:

range returns exactly what you think: a list of consecutive
integers, of a defined length beginning with 0. xrange, however,
returns an “xrange object”, which acts a great deal like an iterator

Answered By: Oko

xrange returns an iterator and only keeps one number in memory at a time. range keeps the entire list of numbers in memory.

Answered By: Ben Hoffstein

In Python 2.x:

  • range creates a list, so if you do range(1, 10000000) it creates a list in memory with 9999999 elements.

  • xrange is a sequence object that evaluates lazily.

In Python 3:

  • range does the equivalent of Python 2’s xrange. To get the list, you have to explicitly use list(range(...)).
  • xrange no longer exists.
Answered By: Charles

range generates the entire list and returns it. xrange does not — it generates the numbers in the list on demand.

Answered By: Eddie Deyo

xrange uses an iterator (generates values on the fly), range returns a list.

Answered By: hacama

Do spend some time with the Library Reference. The more familiar you are with it, the faster you can find answers to questions like this. Especially important are the first few chapters about builtin objects and types.

The advantage of the xrange type is that an xrange object will always
take the same amount of memory, no matter the size of the range it represents.
There are no consistent performance advantages.

Another way to find quick information about a Python construct is the docstring and the help-function:

print xrange.__doc__ # def doc(x): print x.__doc__ is super useful
help(xrange)
Answered By: Antti Rasinen

It is for optimization reasons.

range() will create a list of values from start to end (0 .. 20 in your example). This will become an expensive operation on very large ranges.

xrange() on the other hand is much more optimised. it will only compute the next value when needed (via an xrange sequence object) and does not create a list of all values like range() does.

Answered By: QAZ

range creates a list, so if you do range(1, 10000000) it creates a list in memory with 9999999 elements.

xrange is a generator, so it is a sequence object is a that evaluates lazily.

This is true, but in Python 3, range() will be implemented by the Python 2 xrange(). If you need to actually generate the list, you will need to do:

list(range(1,100))
Answered By: Corey

xrange only stores the range params and generates the numbers on demand. However the C implementation of Python currently restricts its args to C longs:

xrange(2**32-1, 2**32+1)  # When long is 32 bits, OverflowError: Python int too large to convert to C long
range(2**32-1, 2**32+1)   # OK --> [4294967295L, 4294967296L]

Note that in Python 3.0 there is only range and it behaves like the 2.x xrange but without the limitations on minimum and maximum end points.

Answered By: efotinis

range creates a list, so if you do range(1, 10000000) it creates a list in memory with 10000000 elements.
xrange is a generator, so it evaluates lazily.

This brings you two advantages:

  1. You can iterate longer lists without getting a MemoryError.
  2. As it resolves each number lazily, if you stop iteration early, you won’t waste time creating the whole list.
Answered By: Lucas S.

Remember, use the timeit module to test which of small snippets of code is faster!

$ python -m timeit 'for i in range(1000000):' ' pass'
10 loops, best of 3: 90.5 msec per loop
$ python -m timeit 'for i in xrange(1000000):' ' pass'
10 loops, best of 3: 51.1 msec per loop

Personally, I always use range(), unless I were dealing with really huge lists — as you can see, time-wise, for a list of a million entries, the extra overhead is only 0.04 seconds. And as Corey points out, in Python 3.0 xrange() will go away and range() will give you nice iterator behavior anyway.

Answered By: John Fouhy

When testing range against xrange in a loop (I know I should use timeit, but this was swiftly hacked up from memory using a simple list comprehension example) I found the following:

import time

for x in range(1, 10):

    t = time.time()
    [v*10 for v in range(1, 10000)]
    print "range:  %.4f" % ((time.time()-t)*100)

    t = time.time()
    [v*10 for v in xrange(1, 10000)]
    print "xrange: %.4f" % ((time.time()-t)*100)

which gives:

$python range_tests.py
range:  0.4273
xrange: 0.3733
range:  0.3881
xrange: 0.3507
range:  0.3712
xrange: 0.3565
range:  0.4031
xrange: 0.3558
range:  0.3714
xrange: 0.3520
range:  0.3834
xrange: 0.3546
range:  0.3717
xrange: 0.3511
range:  0.3745
xrange: 0.3523
range:  0.3858
xrange: 0.3997 <- garbage collection?

Or, using xrange in the for loop:

range:  0.4172
xrange: 0.3701
range:  0.3840
xrange: 0.3547
range:  0.3830
xrange: 0.3862 <- garbage collection?
range:  0.4019
xrange: 0.3532
range:  0.3738
xrange: 0.3726
range:  0.3762
xrange: 0.3533
range:  0.3710
xrange: 0.3509
range:  0.3738
xrange: 0.3512
range:  0.3703
xrange: 0.3509

Is my snippet testing properly? Any comments on the slower instance of xrange? Or a better example 🙂

Answered By: Dave Everitt

On a requirement for scanning/printing of 0-N items , range and xrange works as follows.

range() – creates a new list in the memory and takes the whole 0 to N items(totally N+1) and prints them.
xrange() – creates a iterator instance that scans through the items and keeps only the current encountered item into the memory , hence utilising same amount of memory all the time.

In case the required element is somewhat at the beginning of the list only then it saves a good amount of time and memory.

Answered By: SomeDoubts

The doc clearly reads :

This function is very similar to range(), but returns an xrange object instead of a list. This is an opaque sequence type which yields the same values as the corresponding list, without actually storing them all simultaneously. The advantage of xrange() over range() is minimal (since xrange() still has to create the values when asked for them) except when a very large range is used on a memory-starved machine or when all of the range’s elements are never used (such as when the loop is usually terminated with break).

Answered By: Kishor Pawar

What?
range returns a static list at runtime.
xrange returns an object (which acts like a generator, although it’s certainly not one) from which values are generated as and when required.

When to use which?

  • Use xrange if you want to generate a list for a gigantic range, say 1 billion, especially when you have a “memory sensitive system” like a cell phone.
  • Use range if you want to iterate over the list several times.

PS: Python 3.x’s range function == Python 2.x’s xrange function.

Answered By: kmario23

Range returns a list while xrange returns an xrange object which takes the same memory irrespective of the range size,as in this case,only one element is generated and available per iteration whereas in case of using range, all the elements are generated at once and are available in the memory.

Answered By: user299567

Some of the other answers mention that Python 3 eliminated 2.x’s range and renamed 2.x’s xrange to range. However, unless you’re using 3.0 or 3.1 (which nobody should be), it’s actually a somewhat different type.

As the 3.1 docs say:

Range objects have very little behavior: they only support indexing, iteration, and the len function.

However, in 3.2+, range is a full sequence—it supports extended slices, and all of the methods of collections.abc.Sequence with the same semantics as a list.*

And, at least in CPython and PyPy (the only two 3.2+ implementations that currently exist), it also has constant-time implementations of the index and count methods and the in operator (as long as you only pass it integers). This means writing 123456 in r is reasonable in 3.2+, while in 2.7 or 3.1 it would be a horrible idea.


* The fact that issubclass(xrange, collections.Sequence) returns True in 2.6-2.7 and 3.0-3.1 is a bug that was fixed in 3.2 and not backported.

Answered By: abarnert

The difference decreases for smaller arguments to range(..) / xrange(..):

$ python -m timeit "for i in xrange(10111):" " for k in range(100):" "  pass"
10 loops, best of 3: 59.4 msec per loop

$ python -m timeit "for i in xrange(10111):" " for k in xrange(100):" "  pass"
10 loops, best of 3: 46.9 msec per loop

In this case xrange(100) is only about 20% more efficient.

Answered By: Evgeni Sergeev

range(): range(1, 10) returns a list from 1 to 10 numbers & hold whole list in memory.

xrange(): Like range(), but instead of returning a list, returns an object that generates the numbers in the range on demand. For looping, this is lightly faster than range() and more memory efficient.
xrange() object like an iterator and generates the numbers on demand.(Lazy Evaluation)

In [1]: range(1,10)

Out[1]: [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]

In [2]: xrange(10)

Out[2]: xrange(10)

In [3]: print xrange.__doc__

xrange([start,] stop[, step]) -> xrange object
Answered By: Tushar Patil

xrange() and range() in python works similarly as for the user , but the difference comes when we are talking about how the memory is allocated in using both the function.

When we are using range() we allocate memory for all the variables it is generating, so it is not recommended to use with larger no. of variables to be generated.

xrange() on the other hand generate only a particular value at a time and can only be used with the for loop to print all the values required.

Answered By: Lakshaya Maheshwari

In python 2.x

range(x) returns a list, that is created in memory with x elements.

>>> a = range(5)
>>> a
[0, 1, 2, 3, 4]

xrange(x) returns an xrange object which is a generator obj which generates the numbers on demand. they are computed during for-loop(Lazy Evaluation).

For looping, this is slightly faster than range() and more memory efficient.

>>> b = xrange(5)
>>> b
xrange(5)
Answered By: Siyaram Malav

range(x,y) returns a list of each number in between x and y if you use a for loop, then range is slower. In fact, range has a bigger Index range. range(x.y) will print out a list of all the numbers in between x and y

xrange(x,y) returns xrange(x,y) but if you used a for loop, then xrange is faster. xrange has a smaller Index range. xrange will not only print out xrange(x,y) but it will still keep all the numbers that are in it.

[In] range(1,10)
[Out] [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]
[In] xrange(1,10)
[Out] xrange(1,10)

If you use a for loop, then it would work

[In] for i in range(1,10):
        print i
[Out] 1
      2
      3
      4
      5
      6
      7
      8
      9
[In] for i in xrange(1,10):
         print i
[Out] 1
      2
      3
      4
      5
      6
      7
      8
      9

There isn’t much difference when using loops, though there is a difference when just printing it!

Answered By: Supercolbat

You will find the advantage of xrange over range in this simple example:

import timeit

t1 = timeit.default_timer()
a = 0
for i in xrange(1, 100000000):
    pass
t2 = timeit.default_timer()

print "time taken: ", (t2-t1)  # 4.49153590202 seconds

t1 = timeit.default_timer()
a = 0
for i in range(1, 100000000):
    pass
t2 = timeit.default_timer()

print "time taken: ", (t2-t1)  # 7.04547905922 seconds

The above example doesn’t reflect anything substantially better in case of xrange.

Now look at the following case where range is really really slow, compared to xrange.

import timeit

t1 = timeit.default_timer()
a = 0
for i in xrange(1, 100000000):
    if i == 10000:
        break
t2 = timeit.default_timer()

print "time taken: ", (t2-t1)  # 0.000764846801758 seconds

t1 = timeit.default_timer()
a = 0
for i in range(1, 100000000):
    if i == 10000:
        break
t2 = timeit.default_timer() 

print "time taken: ", (t2-t1)  # 2.78506207466 seconds

With range, it already creates a list from 0 to 100000000(time consuming), but xrange is a generator and it only generates numbers based on the need, that is, if the iteration continues.

In Python-3, the implementation of the range functionality is same as that of xrange in Python-2, while they have done away with xrange in Python-3

Happy Coding!!

Answered By: User_Targaryen

range :-range will populate everything at once.which means every number of the range will occupy the memory.

xrange :-xrange is something like generator ,it will comes into picture when you want the range of numbers but you dont want them to be stored,like when you want to use in for loop.so memory efficient.

Answered By: tejaswini teju

Everyone has explained it greatly. But I wanted it to see it for myself. I use python3. So, I opened the resource monitor (in Windows!), and first, executed the following command first:

a=0
for i in range(1,100000):
    a=a+i

and then checked the change in ‘In Use’ memory. It was insignificant.
Then, I ran the following code:

for i in list(range(1,100000)):
    a=a+i

And it took a big chunk of the memory for use, instantly. And, I was convinced.
You can try it for yourself.

If you are using Python 2X, then replace ‘range()’ with ‘xrange()’ in the first code and ‘list(range())’ with ‘range()’.

Answered By: ANKUR SATYA

From the help docs.

Python 2.7.12

>>> print range.__doc__
range(stop) -> list of integers
range(start, stop[, step]) -> list of integers

Return a list containing an arithmetic progression of integers.
range(i, j) returns [i, i+1, i+2, ..., j-1]; start (!) defaults to 0.
When step is given, it specifies the increment (or decrement).
For example, range(4) returns [0, 1, 2, 3].  The end point is omitted!
These are exactly the valid indices for a list of 4 elements.

>>> print xrange.__doc__
xrange(stop) -> xrange object
xrange(start, stop[, step]) -> xrange object

Like range(), but instead of returning a list, returns an object that
generates the numbers in the range on demand.  For looping, this is 
slightly faster than range() and more memory efficient.

Python 3.5.2

>>> print(range.__doc__)
range(stop) -> range object
range(start, stop[, step]) -> range object

Return an object that produces a sequence of integers from start (inclusive)
to stop (exclusive) by step.  range(i, j) produces i, i+1, i+2, ..., j-1.
start defaults to 0, and stop is omitted!  range(4) produces 0, 1, 2, 3.
These are exactly the valid indices for a list of 4 elements.
When step is given, it specifies the increment (or decrement).

>>> print(xrange.__doc__)
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
NameError: name 'xrange' is not defined

Difference is apparent. In Python 2.x, range returns a list, xrange returns an xrange object which is iterable.

In Python 3.x, range becomes xrange of Python 2.x, and xrange is removed.

Answered By: Rajendra Uppal

Additionally, if do list(xrange(...)) will be equivalent to range(...).

So list is slow.

Also xrange really doesn’t fully finish the sequence

So that’s why its not a list, it’s a xrange object

Answered By: U12-Forward

range() in Python 2.x

This function is essentially the old range() function that was available in Python 2.x and returns an instance of a list object that contains the elements in the specified range.

However, this implementation is too inefficient when it comes to initialise a list with a range of numbers. For example, for i in range(1000000) would be a very expensive command to execute, both in terms of memory and time usage as it requires the storage of this list into the memory.


range() in Python 3.x and xrange() in Python 2.x

Python 3.x introduced a newer implementation of range() (while the newer implementation was already available in Python 2.x through the xrange() function).

The range() exploits a strategy known as lazy evaluation. Instead of creating a huge list of elements in range, the newer implementation introduces the class range, a lightweight object that represents the required elements in the given range, without storing them explicitly in memory (this might sound like generators but the concept of lazy evaluation is different).


As an example, consider the following:

# Python 2.x
>>> a = range(10)
>>> type(a)
<type 'list'>
>>> b = xrange(10)
>>> type(b)
<type 'xrange'>

and

# Python 3.x
>>> a = range(10)
>>> type(a)
<class 'range'>
Answered By: Giorgos Myrianthous