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Python Language Reference Manual
by Guido van Rossum and Fred L. Drake, Jr.
Paperback (6"x9"), 120 pages
ISBN 0954161785
RRP £12.95 ($19.95)

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5.4 The power operator

The power operator binds more tightly than unary operators on its left; it binds less tightly than unary operators on its right. The syntax is:

power primary ["**" u_expr]

Thus, in an unparenthesized sequence of power and unary operators, the operators are evaluated from right to left (this does not constrain the evaluation order for the operands).

The power operator has the same semantics as the built-in pow() function, when called with two arguments: it yields its left argument raised to the power of its right argument. The numeric arguments are first converted to a common type. The result type is that of the arguments after coercion.

With mixed operand types, the coercion rules for binary arithmetic operators apply. For int and long int operands, the result has the same type as the operands (after coercion) unless the second argument is negative; in that case, all arguments are converted to float and a float result is delivered. For example, 10**2 returns 100, but 10**-2 returns 0.01. (This last feature was added in Python 2.2. In Python 2.1 and before, if both arguments were of integer types and the second argument was negative, an exception was raised).

Raising 0.0 to a negative power results in a ZeroDivisionError. Raising a negative number to a fractional power results in a ValueError.

ISBN 0954161785Python Language Reference ManualSee the print edition