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Engineering LibreTexts

2.1: Values and Types

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  • A value is one of the basic things a program works with, like a letter or a number. The values we have seen so far are 1, 2, and "Hello, World!"

    These values belong to different types: 2 is an integer, and "Hello, World!" is a string, so called because it contains a "string" of letters. You (and the interpreter) can identify strings because they are enclosed in quotation marks.

    The print statement also works for integers. We use the python command to start the interpreter.

    >>> print(4)

    If you are not sure what type a value has, the interpreter can tell you.

    >>> type('Hello, World!')
    <class 'str'>
    >>> type(17)
    <class 'int'>

    Not surprisingly, strings belong to the type str and integers belong to the type int. Less obviously, numbers with a decimal point belong to a type called float, because these numbers are represented in a format called floating point.

    >>> type(3.2)
    <class 'float'>

    What about values like "17" and "3.2"? They look like numbers, but they are in quotation marks like strings.

    >>> type('17')
    <class 'str'>
    >>> type('3.2')
    <class 'str'>

    They're strings.

    When you type a large integer, you might be tempted to use commas between groups of three digits, as in 1,000,000. This is not a legal integer in Python, but it is legal:

    >>> print(1,000,000)
    1 0 0

    Well, that's not what we expected at all! Python interprets 1,000,000 as a comma-separated sequence of integers, which it prints with spaces between.

    This is the first example we have seen of a semantic error: the code runs without producing an error message, but it doesn't do the "right" thing.

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