If most numbers can be represented as a float value, why would we need to use integers?


#1

Question

If most integer values can be represented as a float by adding a decimal and a 0 after it, and float values have a much wider range of values that includes decimal values, why would we ever need to use integers over floats?

Answer

Although technically we can produce an equivalent value for most whole numbers by adding a decimal followed by a 0 after the number (1 and 1.0, 2 and 2.0, …), integer values are sometimes preferred, or necessary for certain situations.

For instance, it would be probably make more sense to use integer values to count things that do not have fractional values, like counting how many students are in a class, or the length of a string in Python, which is always a whole number (You will never have a string that is 2.5 characters long).

Another reason is that float values sometimes behave in unexpected ways due to how they are stored in computer memory, especially when using very large float values. So, if consistency is key for your program, integers might be a better choice.

Furthermore, certain data types in Python, such as lists, can only access elements by whole number indexes, and the range() function, which is a very useful function in Python, will only take whole numbers as input to generate a range of values.