F# Lists

A list in F# is an ordered, immutable series of elements of the same type.

  • It is an ordered collection of related values and is roughly equivalent to a linked list data structure used in many other languages.
  • For some basic operations, F# provides the Microsoft.FSharp.Collections.List module that is imported automatically by F# and is accessible from every F# application.

Creating and Initializing Lists

There are a variety of ways to create lists in F#. The most straightforward way is to define a list by explicitly listing out the elements, separated by semicolons and enclosed in square brackets.

let evenNumbers = [ 0; 2; 4; 6; 8; 10; ]

You can also put line breaks between elements, in which case the semicolons are optional.

let oddNumber = [
    9 ]

The above syntax in more readable code when the element initialization expressions are longer or when you want to include a comment for each element.

You can also define list elements by using a range indicated integers separated by the range operator (..).

let numbers = [ 1 .. 100 ]

You can also use a sequence expression to create a list. The following example creates a list of squares of integers from 1 to 10.

let listOfSquares = [ for i in 1 .. 10 -> i*i ]


You can attach elements to a list by using the :: (cons) operator.

let list1 = [1; 2; 3;]

let list2 = 0 :: list1

The above code creates list2 as [0; 1; 2; 3].

You can concatenate lists that have compatible types by using the @ operator as shown below.

let list1 = [1; 2;]
let list2 = [13; 14;]
let list3 = list1 @ list2

The above example creates list3 as [1; 2; 13; 14].


The list type supports the following properties.

Property Type Description
Head 'T The first element.
Empty 'T list A static property that returns an empty list of the appropriate type.
IsEmpty bool true if the list has no elements.
Item 'T The element at the specified index (zero-based).
Length int The number of elements.
Tail 'T list The list without the first element.

The following code uses different properties of a list type.

let mylist = [ 1; 2; 3; 4; 5 ]

Console.WriteLine("mylist.IsEmpty is {0}", mylist.IsEmpty)
Console.WriteLine("mylist.Length is {0}", mylist.Length)
Console.WriteLine("mylist.Head is {0}", mylist.Head)
Console.WriteLine("mylist.Tail.Head is {0}", mylist.Tail.Head)
Console.WriteLine("mylist.Tail.Tail.Head is {0}", mylist.Tail.Tail.Head)
Console.WriteLine("mylist.Item(1) is {0}", mylist.Item(1))

It will display the following output.

list1.IsEmpty is False
list1.Length is 5
list1.Head is 1
list1.Tail.Head is 2
list1.Tail.Tail.Head is 3
list1.Item(1) is 2