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Values and types

20 January, 2016 - 15:50

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.

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

>>> type('Hello, World!')<type 'str'>>>> type(17)<type '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 oating-point.

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

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

>>> type('17')

<type 'str'>

>>> type('3.2')

<type '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:

Figure 2.1 State diagram 
>>> 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. 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.