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MathGroup Archive 2000

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RE: Building a Table with initially unknown length?

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg24234] RE: [mg24248] Building a Table with initially unknown length?
  • From: "David Park" <djmp at>
  • Date: Tue, 4 Jul 2000 15:22:00 -0400 (EDT)
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

> -----Original Message-----
> From: AES [mailto:siegman at]
To: mathgroup at
> Is there a clean and transparent way to build a Table which grows in
> length either to some initially specified maximum length, or until a
> test is met?
> One way to do this is obviously to use a While[ ] loop, adding an
> element to the table each time around the loop -- but I've been led to
> believe that Append'ing an elements to a list is a slower process.

The Mathematica Book discusses one relatively efficient way to built lists
at the end of Section 2.4.4. It is more efficient to build up a nested list
structure and then Flatten it. The following code generates random numbers
that have a small chance of being negative. It builds up a list to a maximum
length of 10000 or until it generates the first negative number.

Timing[result = Module[{list={}, x, i = 0, max = 10000},
      While[x = Random[Integer, {-2, 10000}];
        i++;  !(i > max || x < 0), list = {x, list}];
      Flatten[list]]; Length[result]]
{0.22 Second, 7425}

David Park
djmp at

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