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How to use the slice() method in Python

Educative Answers Team

Just like when you slice fruit to get particular pieces of it, you can slice an array, a list, or any structure that follows a sequence style in Python to separate out specific elements from it.

How does slice work in Python?

The slice method in Python returns a slice object. This object contains a list of indices specified by a range. This slice object can be used to index relevant elements from the given array, list, or even from a tuple.


To understand how the slice method works, let’s take a look below:



  1. start: This is an optional parameter which indicates the index that the range should start from. If not given, the default value is set to None.

  2. stop: This is a required argument; it specifies the index at which the range of indices stops.

  3. step: This is an optional parameter which defines the increment between the start and stop values.

Given that, the first and third parameters are not given. The slice method can also be called, as shown below:


Return Value

The method returns a slice object. This object ​contains the set of indices that are obtained from the given range.

The illustration below shows how slice works on an array

Creating a slice object
1 of 3

In the illustration above, the slice object is simply used to index the array.


Now, let’s look at some examples of how to use the slice() method to index arrays and tuples, and how both implementations of the method can be used.

1. Slicing an array​

slice_object = slice(1,6,3)
array = ['H','E','L','L','O']
This is the same example as shown in the illustration above.

2. Slicing an array with only the stop parameter

slice_object = slice(3)
array = ['H','E','L','L','O']
Here, it starts from the beginning and extracts all elements up to the stop value.

3. Using slice with range out of bounds

slice_object = slice(3,6)
array = ['H','E','L','L','O']
Here, it indexes at the start index and continues till the end even if the stop index is out of bounds. It will continue up to the maximum possible value.

Note: As shown in the example above, if the value of stop is out of bounds, and greater than the length of the array, it will simply proceed till the highest possible index.

4. Using slice with negative values

The negative index is taken as the last index of the array; hence, the array is indexed in reverse order.

slice_object = slice(-5,-1,2)
array = ['H','E','L','L','O']
In slice, negative values will just be read backwards; hence, -5 is equal to the 0th index of the array.

5. Using slice to index a tuple

slice_object = slice(0,6,2)
array = ('H','E','L','L','O')
This simply returns a tuple of the values.

6. Using slice in the print statement

array = ['H','E','L','L','O']
A separate object does not need be created; instead, it can be called within the indexing of the array.


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