ValueError: negative number cannot be raised to a fractional power

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Question :

ValueError: negative number cannot be raised to a fractional power

When I tried this in terminal

>>> (-3.66/26.32)**0.2

I got the following error

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
ValueError: negative number cannot be raised to a fractional power

However, I am able to do this in two steps like,

>>> (-3.66/26.32)
-0.13905775075987842
>>> -0.13905775075987842 ** 0.2
-0.6739676327771593

Why this behaviour? What is the way to solve this in single line?

Answer #1:

Raising to a power takes precedence over the unary minus sign.

So you have -(0.13905775075987842 ** 0.2) and not (-0.13905775075987842) ** 0.2 as you expect:

>>> -0.13905775075987842 ** 0.2
-0.6739676327771593
>>> (-0.13905775075987842) ** 0.2
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
ValueError: negative number cannot be raised to a fractional power

If you want it to work you should write (-3.66/26.32 + 0j)**0.2

>>> (-3.66/26.32 + 0j)**0.2
(0.5452512685753758+0.39614823506888347j)

Or switch Python 3 as noted by @TimPietzcker.

Answered By: sasha.sochka

Answer #2:

Switch to Python 3 which automatically promotes the result to a complex number:

>>> (-3.66/26.32)**0.2
(0.5452512685753758+0.39614823506888347j)
Answered By: Tim Pietzcker

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