Python has a number of built-in functions. To call a function in Python, use this general form:

(`f`

,`arg`

_{1}, ... )`arg`

_{2}

That is, use the function name, followed by an open
parenthesis “`(`

”, followed by
zero or more *arguments* separated
by commas, followed by a closing parenthesis
“`)`

”.

For example, the `round`

function takes one
numeric argument, and returns the nearest whole number
(as a `float`

number). Examples:

>>> round ( 4.1 ) 4.0 >>> round(4.9) 5.0 >>> round(4.5) 5.0

The result of that last case is somewhat arbitrary, since 4.5 is equidistant from 4.0 and 5.0. However, as in most other modern programming languages, the value chosen is the one further from zero. More examples:

>>> round (-4.1) -4.0 >>> round (-4.9) -5.0 >>> round (-4.5) -5.0

For historical reasons, trigonometric and transcendental
functions are not built-in to Python. If you want to do
calculations of those kinds, you will need to tell Python
that you want to use the `math`

package.
Type this line:

>>> from math import *

Once you have done this, you will be able to use a number
of mathematical functions. For example, `sqrt(`

computes
the square root of * x*)

`x`

:
>>> sqrt(4.0) 2.0 >>> sqrt(81) 9.0 >>> sqrt(100000) 316.22776601683796

Importing the `math`

module also adds two
predefined variables, `pi`

(as in π)
and `e`

, the base of natural logarithms:

>>> print pi, e 3.14159265359 2.71828182846

Here's an example of a function that takes more than
argument. The function `atan2(`

, `dx`

* dy*) returns the arctangent of a line
whose slope is

`dy/dx`

.
>>> atan2 ( 1.0, 0.0 ) 1.5707963267948966 >>> atan2(0.0, 1.0) 0.0 >>> atan2(1.0, 1.0) 0.78539816339744828 >>> print pi/4 0.785398163397

For a complete list of all the facilities in the `math`

module, see the *Python 2.2 quick reference*. Here are some more examples; `log`

is the natural logarithm, and `log10`

is the common logarithm:

>>> log(e) 1.0 >>> log10(e) 0.43429448190325182 >>> exp ( 1.0 ) 2.7182818284590451 >>> sin ( pi / 2 ) 1.0 >>> cos(pi/2) 6.1230317691118863e-17

Mathematically, cos(π/2) should be zero. However,
like pretty much all other modern programming languages,
transcendental functions like this use approximations.
6.12×10^{-17} is, after
all, pretty close to zero.

Two math functions that you may find useful in certain situations:

`floor(`

returns the largest whole number that is less than or equal to)`x`

.`x`

`ceil(`

returns the smallest whole number that is greater than or equal to)`x`

.`x`

>>> floor(4.9) 4.0 >>> floor(4.1) 4.0 >>> floor(-4.1) -5.0 >>> floor(-4.9) -5.0 >>> ceil(4.9) 5.0 >>> ceil(4.1) 5.0 >>> ceil(-4.1) -4.0 >>> ceil(-4.9) -4.0

Note that the `floor`

function always moves
toward -∞ (minus infinity), and `ceil`

always moves toward +∞.