Python Math

Python Math

Discover the power of Python’s built-in math functions and libraries to solve mathematical problems, perform calculations, and manipulate numerical data.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction to Python Math
  2. Python Built-in Math Functions
  3. The math Module
  4. The cmath Module
  5. The fractions Module
  6. The decimal Module
  7. NumPy: A Powerful Numerical Library
  8. Practice Questions on Python Math
  9. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Introduction to Python Math

Python provides a range of built-in functions and libraries for working with numbers and performing mathematical operations. This guide will introduce you to Python’s math capabilities, covering built-in functions, the math module, and more advanced topics like complex numbers and numerical libraries.

2. Python Built-in Math Functions

Python includes several built-in math functions that allow you to perform basic arithmetic and numerical operations without importing any additional modules. Some commonly used built-in math functions are:

  • abs(x): Returns the absolute value of x.
  • round(x, n): Rounds x to n decimal places (default is 0).
  • min(x1, x2, ..., xn): Returns the minimum value of the input arguments.
  • max(x1, x2, ..., xn): Returns the maximum value of the input arguments.
  • sum(iterable): Returns the sum of all elements in the iterable.


numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

print(abs(-5))          # Output: 5
print(round(3.14159, 2)) # Output: 3.14
print(min(numbers))      # Output: 1
print(max(numbers))      # Output: 5
print(sum(numbers))      # Output: 15

3. The math Module

The math module in Python provides a variety of mathematical functions and constants to work with floating-point numbers. To use the math module, you need to import it first:

import math

Some commonly used functions and constants in the math module are:

  • math.pi: The mathematical constant π (pi), approximately 3.14159.
  • math.e: The mathematical constant e (Euler’s number), approximately 2.71828.
  • math.sqrt(x): Returns the square root of x.
  • math.sin(x): Returns the sine of x radians.
  • math.cos(x): Returns the cosine of x radians.
  • math.tan(x): Returns the tangent of x radians.
  • math.log(x, base): Returns the logarithm of x with the specified base (default is e).


import math

print(math.pi)            # Output: 3.141592653589793
print(math.e)             # Output: 2.718281828459045
print(math.sqrt(16))      # Output: 4.0
print(math.sin(math.pi/2))# Output: 1.0
print(math.log(100, 10))  # Output: 2.0

4. The cmath Module

The cmath module provides mathematical functions for working with complex numbers. Complex numbers have a real part and an imaginary part and are usually represented as a + bi, where a is the real part, b is the imaginary part, and i is the imaginary unit (equal to the square root of -1).

To create a complex number in Python, use the complex() function or the j suffix:

import cmath

c1 = complex(3, 4)
c2 = 3 + 4j

Some commonly used functions in the cmath module are:

  • cmath.polar(z): Converts a complex number z to its polar form (magnitude, phase angle).
  • cmath.rect(r, phi): Converts a polar representation (r, phi) to a complex number.
  • cmath.phase(z): Returns the phase angle of a complex number z.
  • cmath.exp(z): Returns the exponential function of a complex number z.
  • cmath.log(z): Returns the natural logarithm of a complex number z.


import cmath

z = 3 + 4j
polar = cmath.polar(z)
rect = cmath.rect(polar[0], polar[1])

print(polar)        # Output: (5.0, 0.9272952180016122)
print(rect)         # Output: (3.0000000000000004+4j)
print(cmath.phase(z)) # Output: 0.9272952180016122

5. The fractions Module

The fractions module provides the Fraction class for working with rational numbers (fractions). To create a Fraction object, pass the numerator and denominator as arguments:

from fractions import Fraction

f1 = Fraction(3, 4)

You can perform arithmetic operations with Fraction objects:

f2 = Fraction(1, 4)
result = f1 + f2
print(result)  # Output: 1

Some useful methods and attributes of the Fraction class are:

  • numerator: Returns the numerator of the fraction.
  • denominator: Returns the denominator of the fraction.
  • from_float(x): Creates a Fraction object from a float x.
  • from_decimal(x): Creates a Fraction object from a decimal x.
  • limit_denominator(max_denominator): Returns the closest Fraction with a denominator at most max_denominator.


from fractions import Fraction

f = Fraction(3, 4)
print(f.numerator)   # Output: 3
print(f.denominator) # Output: 4

f_float = Fraction.from_float(0.75)
print(f_float) # Output: 3/4

f_decimal = Fraction.from_decimal(0.75)
print(f_decimal) # Output: 3/4

f_approx = Fraction(355, 113).limit_denominator(100)
print(f_approx) # Output: 22/7

6. The decimal Module

The decimal module provides the Decimal class for working with decimal floating-point numbers. Decimal numbers have a fixed number of decimal places, making them suitable for financial calculations and other applications requiring exact arithmetic.

To create a Decimal object, pass a number or a string as an argument:

from decimal import Decimal

d1 = Decimal(0.1)
d2 = Decimal('0.1')

The Decimal class supports arithmetic operations and has methods for rounding, square roots, and more:

from decimal import Decimal

d1 = Decimal('0.1')
d2 = Decimal('0.2')
result = d1 + d2
print(result)  # Output: 0.3

7. NumPy: A Powerful Numerical Library

NumPy is a powerful numerical library for Python, providing support for arrays, matrices, and a variety of mathematical functions. To use NumPy, you first need to install it using pip:

pip install numpy

Then, you can import the library:

import numpy as np

NumPy provides a wide range of functionality, including:

  • Creating and manipulating arrays and matrices.
  • Mathematical functions such as sin, cos, exp, and log.
  • Linear algebra operations, such as matrix multiplication and inversion.
  • Statistical functions, such as mean, median, and standard deviation.


import numpy as np

# Create a NumPy array
arr = np.array([1, 2, 3, 4, 5])

# Calculate the mean and standard deviation
mean = np.mean(arr)
std_dev = np.std(arr)

print(mean)      # Output: 3.0
print(std_dev)   # Output: 1.4142135623730951

8. Practice Questions on Python Math

  1. Use Python’s built-in functions to find the smallest and largest numbers in the list [4, 6, 2, 8, 1, 9].
  2. Calculate the square root of 256 using the math module.
  3. Convert the complex number 2 + 3j to polar coordinates using the cmath module.
  4. Add the fractions 2/3 and 1/6 using the fractions module.
  5. Calculate the sum of Decimal('0.1') and Decimal('0.2') using the decimal module.
  6. Create a NumPy array with the numbers 1 to 10, and then calculate the mean and standard deviation of the array.

9. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: What are the main differences between the math and cmath modules?

A: The math module provides mathematical functions for working with real (floating-point) numbers, while the cmath module provides mathematical functions for working with complex numbers.

Q2: When should I use the fractions module instead of the decimal module?

A: The fractions module is useful when you need to work with exact fractions (rational numbers), while the decimal module is more appropriate for working with decimal floating-point numbers. The choice depends on the specific requirements of your application.

Q3: Why should I use NumPy instead of Python’s built-in math functions and modules?

A: NumPy is a powerful numerical library that provides support for arrays, matrices, and a wide range of mathematical functions. It is often more efficient and convenient to use NumPy for numerical computations, especially when working with large datasets or complex mathematical operations.

Q4: Can I use the math module to work with complex numbers?

A: No, the math module only supports real (floating-point) numbers. To work with complex numbers, you should use the cmath module.

Q5: How can I represent infinity or NaN (not a number) in Python?

A: You can use the float function to create special floating-point values for infinity and NaN:

positive_infinity = float('inf')
negative_infinity = float('-inf')
nan = float('nan')

These special values can be used in arithmetic operations and mathematical functions, and they follow the IEEE 754 standard for floating-point arithmetic.


In this Python tutorial, you’ve explored the various mathematical functions and modules available in Python, such as built-in functions, math, cmath, fractions, decimal, and NumPy. You’ve learned how to perform a wide range of numerical operations, from basic arithmetic to more advanced calculations involving complex numbers, fractions, and arrays. With this knowledge, you are now well-equipped to tackle any mathematical problem in your Python projects. Keep practicing and exploring these modules to further enhance your Python skills, and be sure to check out other tutorials on Whitewood Media & Web Development to expand your programming knowledge.