# Data Structures - Sets For Beginners

Under Construction

In this tutorial we are going to look at the `set`

data structure in computer
science and how you can leverage it within your applications. We’ll be covering
this concept using the Python programming language.

## Sets in Mathematics

Understanding Sets and basic Set Theory in Mathematics is a fundamental skill.
The idea of a *Set* has been translated directly from mathematics into
programming languages such as Python, and with this Set data structure, comes
some incredibly useful functions such as `union()`

, `issubset()`

,
`intersection()`

, `isdisjoint()`

that have also been translated directly over
from Mathematics.

*Sets* aren’t just a fundamental skill in Mathematics, throughout your
programming career you will likely encounter a wide number of different problems
that can be far more easily solved with the use of Sets.

## Introduction

A `set`

is a data structure that can store any number of `unique`

values in any
order you so wish. Set’s are different from
arrays in the sense that they
only allow non-repeated, unique values within them.

Thankfully, programming languages tend to have the ability to convert the likes
of an `array`

into a `set`

with minimal fuss.

Let’s take a look at an example of this in Python. We’ll start off by defining
`an_array`

which will contain a number of repeated elements.

We can then create a set using the `set()`

function and pass in our `an_array`

.
This will automatically create a set of the unique values in our array for us.
We can then view these unique values by printing out the contents of our set.

```
>>> an_array = [1,2,2,3,3,4] # repeated values
>>> a_set = set(an_array) # non-repeated, unique values
>>> a_set
{1, 2, 3, 4}
```

This can also be used for strings:

```
>>> my_string = "hello world, my name is elliot"
>>> char_set = set(my_string)
>>> char_set
{'r', ' ', 'a', 'i', 't', 'e', 'l', 'd', 'y', 'o', 's', 'n', 'm', 'h', ',', 'w'}
```

## Adding Values to Sets

When you try to add values to a `set`

in Python, it will only insert the value
if that value does not already exist within the set:

```
>>> my_set
{1, 2, 3, 4}
>>> my_set.add(1)
>>> my_set
{1, 2, 3, 4} # No Change to the set
>>> my_set.add(5)
>>> my_set
{1, 2, 3, 4, 5} # 5 is added to the set
```

This means we can very easily use the `set`

data-structure to parse all of the
unique values from a list of any size:

```
>>> my_list = [1,2,2,3,4,5,5,1,3,6,7]
>>> my_set = set(my_list)
>>> my_set
{1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7} # prints out only the unique values
```

## Conclusion

Hopefully you found this article on the `set`

data structure useful! If you
require further help then please feel free to let me know in the comments
section below or by tweeting me:
@Elliot_f.