Is Decimal a Data Type in Python?


Larry Thompson

Is Decimal a Data Type in Python?

Python is a versatile programming language that offers several data types to handle different kinds of values. When it comes to numerical data, Python provides various data types such as integers, floats, and complex numbers.

But what about the decimal numbers? Is there a specific data type for decimal values in Python?

The answer is yes. Python does have a dedicated data type called Decimal to handle decimal numbers with high precision.

What is the Decimal Data Type?

The Decimal data type in Python is part of the decimal module, which provides support for decimal arithmetic. It allows us to perform accurate calculations with decimal numbers without any loss of precision.

Why Use Decimal Instead of Float?

You might wonder why we need a separate Decimal data type when we already have floats to handle decimal values. The reason lies in the way computers represent floating-point numbers. Floats use a binary representation, which can introduce rounding errors and imprecisions for certain decimal values.

The Decimal data type, on the other hand, represents decimal numbers using base-10 arithmetic, which aligns perfectly with how we humans think about decimals. It eliminates the inaccuracies associated with binary representation and ensures precise calculations.

Working with Decimals in Python

To use the Decimal data type in your Python program, you need to import it from the decimal module:

from decimal import Decimal

You can then create Decimal objects by passing either a string or an integer/float as an argument:

num1 = Decimal('10.5')
num2 = Decimal(20)

Once you have decimal objects, you can perform various mathematical operations on them, just like you would with regular numbers:

sum_of_nums = num1 + num2
product_of_nums = num1 * num2

Decimal Precision and Context

One of the notable features of the Decimal data type is the ability to control its precision. By default, Decimal has a precision of 28 decimal places. However, you can adjust this precision by using a decimal context.

A decimal context allows you to specify the precision and other settings for Decimal calculations. You can define a custom context or use the default context provided by the decimal module.


The Decimal data type in Python provides a reliable way to handle decimal numbers with high precision. It offers an alternative to floats when accuracy is crucial, especially in financial and scientific applications.

Remember to import the Decimal class from the decimal module and create Decimal objects using either strings or integer/float values. Take advantage of decimal contexts to control precision and other settings for your calculations.

By utilizing Python’s Decimal data type, you can perform accurate calculations with decimal numbers without worrying about rounding errors or imprecisions.

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