Python Tuple Data Structure Practical Example

Last Updated | Dec, 29, 2020 By Kingsley Ijomah
In this tutorial, you'll learn about Python's Tuple data structure. You'll look at some of the best scenarios to use it and finally, we will visit the tuple data structure's methods with sample codes.

Tuple data structure is a list of values separated by a comma, just like a list, the difference is that a Tuple is immutable, you cannot modify tuples directly after it is created.

When to use Tuple
Below are some reasons why you might need to use the tuple data structure instead.

  • You are dealing with sequenced data
  • Accessing index might be necessary
  • Cannot edit data once created
  • The list is heterogeneous ( different data types )

This article is a continuation of Python Data Structures For Beginners

Let us explore tuple in more details... and in the end, solve a problem using tuple data structure.

Topics covered in this post:

1. Creating a Tuple
2. Access Tuple Elements
3. Negative Indexing
4. Slicing Tuples in Python
5. Changing a Tuple
6. Deleting a Tuple
7. Tuple Methods
8. Tuple Code Challenge

Creating a Tuple

# Different types of tuples

# Empty tuple
tuple = ()

# tuple can hold heterogeneous (different) data types
tuple = ("cat", [4, 3, 2], (1, 2, 3))

# Plain comma-separated values are tuples by default
tuple = 1234, 4321, 'hello!'

# single tuple
tuple = 'hello',    # <== note trailing comma

# single tuple parenthesis
# it becomes just a string object without the trailing comma
tuple = ('hello',) #<== note trailing comma

# looks like tuple, but not a tuple
tuple = ('hello') # => <class 'str'>

Access Tuple Elements

So just like in the case of a list tuple is a sequence / ordered list and therefore we can access it by referencing the index position.

# Accessing tuple elements by indexing
tuple = (1234, 4321, 'hello!')

# access with index
tuple[0] # output => 1234

tuple[2] # output => 'hello!'

Negative Indexing

We can also access tuple values using negative indexing

# Access with negative indexing
tuple = (1234, 4321, 'hello!')

tuple[-1] # output => 'hello'

tuple[-3] # output => 1234

Slicing Tuples in Python

We can also access tuple values by slicing, here are some of the examples

fruits = ('orange', 'apple', 'pear', 'grapes', 'banana')

# beginning to end
fruits[:] # output => ('orange', 'apple', 'pear', 'grapes', 'banana')

# index 2 to 5th item
fruits[2:5] # output => ('pear', 'grapes', 'banana')

# remove last 2 items
fruits[:-2] # output => ('orange', 'apple', 'pear')

# return first 2 items
fruits[:2] # output => ('orange', 'apple')

# index 2 to the end
fruits[2:] # output => ('pear', 'grapes', 'banana')

# every nth item
fruits[::2] # output => ('orange', 'pear', 'banana')

# reverse list
fruits[::-1] # output => ('banana', 'grapes', 'pear', 'apple', 'orange')

Changing a Tuple

Tuples are immutable which means it can't be changed once it is created, but if it contains a data type e.g a list which is mutable then that can be changed. let's see how that works.

# Changing tuple values

fruits = ('orange', [1,2,3])

# Attempt to change the immutable type
fruits[0] = 'pear' # output => TypeError: 'tuple' object does not support item assignment

# Change mutable list type
fruits[1][0] = 5
fruits # output => ('orange', [5, 2, 3])

Deleting a Tuple

Again deleting individual items in a tuple is not possible because it is immutable, but what you can do is delete the entire list, let's take another look.

# Deleting tuples
fruits = ('orange', [1,2,3])

# can't delete items
del fruits[0] # output => TypeError: 'tuple' object doesn't support item deletion

# Can delete the entire tuple
# deletes successfully
del fruits

Tuple Methods

Unlike List which has a hand. full of methods, tuple only has 2 in-built methods

count() - Total occurrence in a tuple
index() - Returns the position of where result was found

Now that we know what a tuple is and what it looks like, let's explore how to use it in solving a problem.

Tuple Code Challenge

Scrabble Score

Given a word, compute the scrabble score for that word.

You'll need these:

Letter                           Value
A, E, I, O, U, L, N, R, S, T       1
D, G                               2
B, C, M, P                         3
F, H, V, W, Y                      4
K                                  5
J, X                               8
Q, Z                               10

Using the above values, you can work out the points for a word.

"cabbage" should be scored as worth 14 points:

3 points for C
1 point for A, twice
3 points for B, twice
2 points for G
1 point for E

And to total:

`3 + 2*1 + 2*3 + 2 + 1`
= `3 + 2 + 6 + 3`
= 14

Solution Steps

  • Store scores as a tuple of key (score) and value(letter)
  • Loop through tuple sequence and return the value for found letters
  • Add up all the values returned
# a list of heterogeneous (different) tuple types (int and string)
    (1, 'A, E, I, O, U, L, N, R, S, T'),
    (2, 'D, G'),
    (3, 'B, C, M, P'),
    (4, 'F, H, V, W, Y'),
    (5, 'K'),
    (8, 'J, X'),
    (10, 'Q, Z')

# sum up all values found
def score(word):
    return sum([letter_scores(letter) for letter in word.upper()])

# for each letter given, search through the SCORES list for a value
def letter_scores(letter):
    for score, letters in SCORES:
        if letter in letters:
            return score


Use tuples for heterogeneous (different) data types and lists for homogeneous (similar) data types. If data doesn't need to change during execution then use tuples.


My name is Kingsley Ijomah, I am the founder of CODEHANCE, an online education platform built with you in mind, a place where I express my gratitude to a skill ( coding ) which has changed my life completely.

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