Python has many useful built in data types. Python variables can store different types of data and can be created dynamically, without first defining a data type. It's useful for engineers to understand a couple of Python's core data types in order to write well constructed code. Below we will discuss a few different data types.

Integers

Integers are one of the Python data types. An integer is a whole number, negative, positive or zero. In Python, integer variables can be defined by simply assigning a whole number to a variable name. We can determine data type of a variable using the type() function.

>>> a = 5
>>> type(a)
<class 'int'>
>>> b = -2
>>> type(b)
<class 'int'>
>>> z = 0
>>> type(z)
<class 'int'>

Floating Point Numbers

Floating point numbers or floats are another Python data type. Floats are decimals, positive, negative and zero. Floats can also be numbers in scientific notation which contain exponents. In Python, a float can be defined using a decimal point . when a variable is assigned.

>>> c = 6.2
>>> type(c)
<class 'float'>
>>> d = -0.03
>>> type(d)
<class 'float'>
>>> e = 6.02e23
>>> e
6.02e+23
>>> type(e)
<class 'float'>

To make sure a variable is a float instead of an integer even if it is a whole number, a trailing decimal point . is used. Note the difference when a decimal point comes after the a whole number:

>>> g = 5     # no decimal point
>>> type(g)
<class 'int'>
>>> g = 5.    # decimal point
>>> type(g)
<class 'float'>

Boolean

The boolean data type is either True or False. In Python, boolean variables are defined by the True and False key words. Note that True and False must have an Upper Case first letter. Using a lowercase true returns an error.

a = True
type(a)
<class 'bool'>
b = False
type(b)
<class 'bool'>
c = true
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "<input>", line 1, in <module>
NameError: name 'true' is not defined
d = false
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "<input>", line 1, in <module>
NameError: name 'false' is not defined

String

Strings are sequences of letters, numbers, spaces and symbols. In Python, strings can be almost any length and can contain spaces. String variables are assigned in Python using quotation marks ' '.

string = 'z'
type(string)
<class 'str'>
string = 'Engineers'
type(string)
<class 'str'>

A numbers and decimals can be defined as strings too. If a decimal number is defined using quotes ' ', it will be saved as a string rather than as a float. This is true of whole numbers as well. Whole numbers defined using quotes will become strings just like decimal numbers defined using quotes.

num = '5.2'
type(num)
<class 'str'>
num = '2'
type(num)
<class 'str'>

Complex numbers

One final data type useful to engineers are complex numbers. A complex number is defined in Python using a real component + imaginary componentj. The letter j must be used in the imaginary component. Using the letter i will return an error. Note how imaginary numbers can be added to integers and floats.

comp = 4 + 2j
type(comp)
<class 'complex'>
comp2 = 4 + 2i
^
SyntaxError: invalid syntax

intgr = 3
type(intgr)
<class 'int'>
comp_sum = comp + intgr
print(comp_sum)
(7+2j)
flt = 2.1
comp_sum = comp + flt
print(comp_sum)
(6.1+2j)

Converting between different data types

The number five can be an integer, or a float or a string depending on how it is assigned. Python has built in functions to convert between data types. The int() float() and str() methods will convert our 5 from one Python data type to another.

int_num = 5
type(int_num)
<class 'int'>
float_num = float(int_num)
type(float_num)
<class 'float'>
str_num = str(int_num)
type(str_num)
<class 'str'>
str_num
'5'

Summary

Data Type Python Class Description Examples
integer int whole numbers: negative positive and zero 5 -2 0
floating point number float decimal number: negative positive and zero. Can contain an exponent 2.3 -0.05 4.5e8
boolean bool True or False True False
string str sequence of letters, numbers, spaces and symbols Gabby Engineering! 5
complex number comp number with both real and imaginary components 4+2j 0-2j 6+0j