# How to Initiate 2-D Array in Python

Jinku Hu Feb 02, 2024

This tutorial guide will introduce different methods to initiate a 2-D array in Python. We will make a `3x5` 2-D array in the following examples.

## List Comprehension Method to Initiate a 2D Array

``````>>> column, row = 3, 5
>>> array2D = [[0 for _ in range(row)] for _ in range(column)]
>>> array2D
[[0, 0, 0, 0, 0], [0, 0, 0, 0, 0], [0, 0, 0, 0, 0]]
``````

This nested list comprehension method creates 2-D array with the initial value as `0`. Of course, you could change the initial value to any value you need to assign in your application.

## Nested `range` Method to Initiate a 2D Array

If you don’t care about the initial value in the 2-D array, the value `0` could be even eliminated.

In Python 2.x

``````>>> column, row = 3, 5
>>> A = [range(row) for _ in range(column)]
>>> A
[[0, 1, 2, 3, 4], [0, 1, 2, 3, 4], [0, 1, 2, 3, 4]]
``````

In Python 3.x

``````>>> column, row = 3, 5
>>> A = [range(row) for _ in range(column)]
>>> A
[range(0, 5), range(0, 5), range(0, 5)]
``````

We couldn’t simply use `range(x)` to initiate 2-D array in Python 3.x because `range` returns an object containing a sequence of integers in Python 3.x, but not a list of integers as in Python 2.x.

`range` in Python 3.x is more similar to `xrange` in Python 2.x. `range` object in Python 3.x is immutable, therefore, you don’t assign items to its elements.

If you need item assignment, you need to convert the `range` to `list` object.

``````>>> A = [list(range(row)) for _ in range(column)]
>>> A
[[0, 1, 2, 3, 4], [0, 1, 2, 3, 4], [0, 1, 2, 3, 4]]
``````

### `[0] * N` Method to Initiate a 2D Array

One Pythonic way to initiate a 2-D array could be

``````>>> column, row = 3, 5
>>> A = [[0]*row for _ in range(column)]
>>> A
[[0, 0, 0, 0, 0], [0, 0, 0, 0, 0], [0, 0, 0, 0, 0]]
``````

Although we should be cautious when we use list multiplication because it simply creates a sequence with multiple times referred to one same object, we are relieved to use `[0]*n` here because data object `0` is immutable so that we will never encounter problems even with references to the same immutable object.

## `NumPy` Method to Initiate a 2D Array

Besides the native Python array, `NumPy` should be the best option to create a 2-D array, or to be more precise, a matrix.

You could create a matrix filled with zeros with `numpy.zeros`.

``````>>> import numpy as np
>>> column, row = 3, 5
>>> np.zeros(column, row)
array([[0., 0., 0., 0., 0.],
[0., 0., 0., 0., 0.],
[0., 0., 0., 0., 0.]])
``````

Or initiate a matrix filled with `ones` with `numpy.ones`

``````>>> import numpy as np
>>> column, row = 3, 5
>>> np.ones((column, row))
array([[1., 1., 1., 1., 1.],
[1., 1., 1., 1., 1.],
[1., 1., 1., 1., 1.]])
``````

You could even create a new array without initializing entries with `numpy.empty`

``````>>> import numpy as np
>>> column, row = 3, 5
>>> np.empty((5,5))
array([[6.23042070e-307, 4.67296746e-307, 1.69121096e-306,
1.33511562e-306, 1.89146896e-307],
[7.56571288e-307, 3.11525958e-307, 1.24610723e-306,
1.37962320e-306, 1.29060871e-306],
[2.22518251e-306, 1.33511969e-306, 1.78022342e-306,
1.05700345e-307, 1.11261027e-306],
[1.11261502e-306, 1.42410839e-306, 7.56597770e-307,
6.23059726e-307, 1.42419530e-306],
[7.56599128e-307, 1.78022206e-306, 8.34451503e-308,
2.22507386e-306, 7.20705877e+159]])
``````

### Initialize 2D Array in Python Using the `numpy.full()` Method

This method will also initialize the list elements, but it is slower than the list Comprehension method.

The complete example code is as follows:

``````import numpy

dim_columns = 2
dim_rows = 2

output = numpy.full((dim_columns, dim_rows), 0).tolist()

print(output)
``````

The `numpy.full()` function of the NumPy will create an array and the `tolist()` function of NumPy will convert that array to a Python List.

Output:

``````[[0, 0], [0, 0]]
``````
Notes
It is a better solution if you want to create the empty array first and then assign the element values later. But be aware that random values are in the array so that it could be risky if you access the array by indexing before value of the corresponding index has been assigned.
Author: Jinku Hu

Founder of DelftStack.com. Jinku has worked in the robotics and automotive industries for over 8 years. He sharpened his coding skills when he needed to do the automatic testing, data collection from remote servers and report creation from the endurance test. He is from an electrical/electronics engineering background but has expanded his interest to embedded electronics, embedded programming and front-/back-end programming.