~ Numbers


Making exponents with the ** character

Python uses the ** characters to "make" exponents. For example:

Ignoring the ^ character for now

The ^ character doesn't give you an exponent in Python; instead, it's an exclusive or, which we'll talk about later.

This **/^ distinction might strike you as a bit odd. Unfortunately, when Python was being invented, the ^ character was already being used for exclusive or, so the person writing Python needed to come up with something else. He seems to have chosen two stars (**) because exponents are a bit like "super multiplication."

You can ask Python to help you calculate exponents that include negative numbers and decimals, too:


What's the result of these exponent problems? (Use the console below, if you like!)

2 ** 6
1 ** 8
3 ** 2
3 ** -3
16 ** 0.5
16 ** (1/2)           # Does this one surprise you?
16 ** 1/2             # What about this one?