Python pow() Function Explained

Python is one of the most significant and widely known programming languages in the modern era of technology. The Python interpreter has a wide spectrum of various built-in functions that are specifically built to perform particular tasks. This accounts for the versatility and flexibility of the programming language. One such built-in function supported by the Python interpreter is the Python power function. It is represented in general as pow(). Let us discuss more about the syntax, parameters and the return value of the Python power function in the subsequent sections.

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Introduction to the Python Power function:

The Python power function can be used when the user has a requirement of calculating the power of the inputs within a complex Python code. It can also be used in simpler calculations where the value of a number ‘x’ raised to the power ‘y’ is calculated. The power function in Python also allows the use of three inputs, say x, y and z. In such cases, the value returned by the function is equal to the ‘z’ modulus of ‘x’ raised to the power ‘y’. The general syntax of the Power function in Python is as mentioned below. 

pow(x, y[, z])

The syntax will be pow(x,y) when only two input parameters are used.

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Python Power function parameters:

Now that the basics of the power function in Python are thoroughly discussed let us look into the details of the parameters used in the Power function. The Python power function permits a maximum of three input parameters.

  • The parameter ‘x’: It is a compulsory variable and represents the number whose power is to be determined.
  • The parameter ‘y’: It is also an obligatory input parameter. It represents the number to which the parameter ‘x’ should be powered. 
  • The parameter ‘z’: It is an optional input parameter. This parameter derives the modulus of the power value obtained when ‘x’ is raised to the power ‘y’.

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Power Method in Python: Different cases of input parameters:

  • The argument ‘x’ can be either a positive integer or a negative integer. It is mandatory for the programmer to assign a value to this parameter.
  • The parameter ‘y’ also is a compulsory input parameter and accept the value that is either positive or negative integers.
  • The parameter ‘z’ is optional. It may or may not be passed as per the user’s requirement. If assigned a value, the parameter ‘z’ can take up any positive or negative integer.

Return values of Python Power Function:

Input parameter ‘x’

Input Parameter ‘y’

Input Parameter ‘z’ 

Return Value

Positive integer Positive integer  Not assigned Integer
Positive integer Positive integer Not assigned Floating point number
Negative integer Positive integer Not assigned  Integer
Negative integer Negative integer Not assigned Integer
Positive / negative integer Positive / negative integer Positive / negative integer Integer

Understanding Python Power Function with Examples

The value of a number raised to a particular power can be determined using the Python pow() function. For example,

  • pow(3,3) is 33– results in 27
  • pow(-3,3) is -33 – results in -27
  • pow(3,-3) is 1/ 33 – results in 0.037
  • pow(-3,-3) is -1/-33 – results in – 0.037

When To Use pow() In Python?

In Python, the power function can be used to determine the power of a variable ‘a’ over a variable ‘b’. When a third variable, ‘c’, is added to the equation, the pow() method returns ‘a’ to the power of ‘b’ , modulus of ‘c’.

Complexity of Python pow()

  • Time Complexity: O(1)
  • Auxiliary Space: O(1)

Code Example

print(pow(2,3)) # prints (2**3)

print(pow(3, 3, 10)) # prints (3**3)%10




Exceptions Of pow() In Python

There are several limitations to the built-in Python power function when utilizing the third argument (modulus), even though the base and exponents of the function can be negative, floating point numbers, or even complex numbers. They are:

  • We receive a “ValueError” stating that a complex number cannot be used with a modulus when we supply a complex number as the basis and utilize the third argument (modulus).
  • We receive a “TypeError” that specifies that floating-point parameters cannot be used with a modulus since we can only use a modulus with integers when we supply a floating-point number as the base when using the third argument (modulus).
  • We receive a “ValueError” that specifies that a negative exponent cannot be used with a modulus when we pass a negative value as the exponent while utilizing the third argument (modulus). Since we already know that we cannot use a modulus with a floating point number, the problem is caused by the fact that a negative exponent produces a result that is a floating point number between 0 and 1.
  • In pow() Python math, we receive a “ValueError” message when we attempt to utilize a negative base with a floating point exponent by passing a negative base and a floating point exponent to math.pow().

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