What does ** Mean in Python?

Multiplication is one of the operations that a python coder should be able to perform. Multiplication in Python is a simple and straightforward process. But what if you used exponents instead?

For example, how would you raise a number to the second power? If you’re unsure, the answer will most likely be straightforward. To raise a value to the power of another, use the “**” operator. Whereas multiplying two integers just requires one * symbol, raising one number to the power of another necessitates the use of the ** symbol.

Exponent notation in Python is a means to express large or small values with a lot of zeros. To replace the powers of ten, use the exponent symbol e or E.

A billion (1 000 000 000), for example, is 109. This indicates that the letter e or E, followed by the number of zeros, can be expressed in exponential notation.

In mathematics, what is an exponent?

The number of times a number is multiplied by itself is called an exponent. The exponent is depicted in mathematics by a figure in the form of a superscript, like 33. Raising a number to a power is an operation that involves exponents. This signifies that number 3 has been multiplied three times. As a result, 33 = 3 * 3 * 3 = 27

That concludes the math section. Let’s look at how to do exponent calculations in Python. Let’s also learn how to use the exponent notation to represent large and tiny numbers.

Python’s exponents

The double-stars (**) notation denotes an exponential operator in Python. In addition, the operator’s left operand is base. In the same way, the proper one is a proponent. It also calculates the value of base to the exponent’s power, i.e., base exponent. For example, we’ll write 25 for 2 to the power of 5. Finally, the value of 25 can be calculated using the ** operator as 2 ** 5.

In an IDE, try the following examples.

Python exponents

The output will be given as follows:

Python's exponents output

Did you notice that the first result is an integer and the last three are floating? The reasoning for it is as follows:

  • To begin with, when all of the exponentiation operands are integers, the result is also an integer.
  • Second, the result is a float if at least one operand is a float.

Example Using the Python ** Operator

Let’s have a look at an example of how to utilize the ** operator in Python. Assume we’re developing an app to assess sixth-grade math students’ understanding of powers.

To do so, we’ll give a student a math problem to solve, then ask them for the solution. After that, our application will calculate the solution to the problem and compare it to the response entered by the user.

Here’s an example software that we could use to assess sixth-grade math students’ understanding of powers:

Python exponents example

We receive the following response when we run our application and enter the answer 12 (or any other number that isn’t the answer):

Python exponents app

As you’ve seen, our program determined that our response was erroneous and returned a message containing the right response.

We declare a variable named number on the first line, which contains the number we want to increase to a mathematical power. We then define exponent, being the exponent number that will be raised by the variable number.

On the next line, we ask the user a question using the Python input() method; “What is 12 to the power of 5?”

To convert the user’s response to an integer, we utilize the Python int() data type conversion method. This is required since input() returns a string, and the ** operator can only be used with numbers. The appropriate response is then calculated using the ** operator. In this situation, we use 12 ** 5 to get 12 to the power of 5.

An if statement is declared, which sends the message “You’re correct!” on the console. If a user gets the proper answer, it puts out a message with the correct answer; if a user is incorrect, it prints out a message with the correct answer.

If you’ve had questions on what the ** means in Python, then this article should hopefully have made you not just understand, but taught you how to handle exponents properly in Python.

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