What is the point of float(inf) in Python?

What is the point of float(inf) in Python?

It acts as an unbounded upper value for comparison. This is useful for finding lowest values for something. for example, calculating path route costs when traversing trees.

e.g. Finding the cheapest path in a list of options:

>>> lowest_path_cost = float(inf)
>>> # pretend that these were calculated using some worthwhile algorithm
>>> path_costs = [1, 100, 2000000000000, 50]
>>> for path in path_costs:
...   if path < lowest_path_cost:
...     lowest_path_cost = path
>>> lowest_path_cost

if you didnt have float(Inf) available to you, what value would you use for the initial lowest_path_cost? Would 9999999 be enough — float(Inf) removes this guesswork.

From the documentation:

Many floating-point features were added. The float() function will now
turn the string nan into an IEEE 754 Not A Number value, and +inf and
-inf into positive or negative infinity. This works on any platform with IEEE 754 semantics. (Contributed by Christian Heimes; issue

Also refer this: Working with Infinity and NaNs

What is the point of float(inf) in Python?


As stated in answer above, float(inf) is used for setting a variable with an infinitely large value.
In simple words, it sets the value as +ve infinty.

ALTERNATIVELY, we can make use of the following statement,

import sys
least_value = sys.maxsize

The sys.maxsize is more commonly used, for setting large value initially. When our aim is to find the least value from given set of values.

Also, in case if we want to find largest value from given set of values. We can use the following.

import sys
greatest_value = -sys.maxsize - 1

# logic for comparing with rest of values

The -sys.maxsize - 1 is used for setting initial value as -ve infinity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *