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/vendor/magento/module-catalog/view/frontend/templates/product/list.phtml is the template responsible for the product list in a category page for example, it loads the products collection and the print it with a classic foreach ($_productCollection as $_product).

Inside the foreach we have:

<?php $iterator = 1; ?>
<ol class="products list items product-items">
    <?php /** @var $_product \Magento\Catalog\Model\Product */ ?>
    <?php foreach ($_productCollection as $_product): ?>
        <?php /* @escapeNotVerified */ echo($iterator++ == 1) ? '<li class="item product product-item">' : '</li><li class="item product product-item">' ?>
        ...
        <?php echo($iterator == count($_productCollection)+1) ? '</li>' : '' ?>
    <?php endforeach; ?>
</ol>

why not a simpler code like this?

<ol class="products list items product-items">
    <?php /** @var $_product \Magento\Catalog\Model\Product */ ?>
    <?php foreach ($_productCollection as $_product): ?>
        <li class="item product product-item">
        ...
        </li>
    <?php endforeach; ?>
</ol>

closed as primarily opinion-based by Keyul Shah, Fabian Schmengler, Raphael at Digital Pianism, Rajeev K Tomy, brentwpeterson Jul 19 '16 at 17:33

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.