Difference between random.sample() vs random.choice() in Python

Python random.sample() vs random.choice():

The Python random module provides a couple of useful functions. The random.sample() and random.choice() are used to get a list or a single random element from a given list. In this post, I will show you how these methods works with examples.

Python random.sample():

The sample() method is used to get a list of unique elements from a given list of elements. This method is mainly used for random sampling of data with no replacement.

It is defined as below:

random.sample(data, k, *, counts=None)
  • data is the given sequence.
  • It will pick a list of k unique elements.
  • It returns a new list without modifying the original data list.
  • counts is an optional parameter to define the repeated elements in the given list.

It raises a ValueError if the sample size is greater than the original list size.

Let’s take a look at the below example:

import random

given_list = list(range(20))
random_sample = random.sample(given_list, 5)


In the above example, we created a list of numbers given_list and called random.sample on this list to get a list of random 5 numbers.

Each time you run this program, it will print a list holding random elements.

Python example random sample

Let me show you how to use counts:

import random

given_list = [2, 3]
random_sample = random.sample(given_list, 5, counts=[3, 3])


Here, the list given_list holds only two elements. But counts=[3,3] will define that both elements will repeat for 3 times. It is equivalent to random.sample([2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3], 5). It will print output something as below:

[2, 3, 3, 3, 2]

Python random.choice():

The random.choice() function is used to get a single random element from a sequence. It is defined as:


It takes one sequence seq as its parameter and returns one random element from this sequence.

It raises IndexError if the sequence seq is empty.

For example:

import random

random_choice = random.choice(range(100))



➜ python3 example.py

➜ python3 example.py

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