Use ** instead of pow in Python

In Python, x**y is much faster than:

Julia is more than 5 times faster than Python at scalar exponentiation, while Go was in-between Python and Julia in performance.


The timing was the same for integer or float base or exponent.

Python testing done with:

  • Python 3.7.2
  • Ipython 7.4.0
  • Numpy 1.16.1

** operator

The ** operator in Python also has the advantage of returning int if inputs are int and arithmetic result is integer.

%timeit 10**(-3)

18.8 ns ± 0.263 ns per loop (mean ± std. dev. of 7 runs, 10000000 loops each)


%timeit pow(10, -3)

490 ns ± 5.62 ns per loop (mean ± std. dev. of 7 runs, 1000000 loops each)


%timeit math.pow(10, -3)

572 ns ± 10.4 ns per loop (mean ± std. dev. of 7 runs, 1000000 loops each)


Numpy is known in general to be slower at scalar operations than Python-native operators and Python built-in math. But of course Numpy is generally a lot faster and easier for N-dimensional array operations.

%timeit numpy.power(10, -3)

3.85 µs ± 440 ns per loop (mean ± std. dev. of 7 runs, 100000 loops each)


Julia 1.1.0 was likewise benchmarked for reference on the same computer. First we installed Julia BenchmarkTools:

import Pkg

The Julia wallclock time for exponentiation was the same for float and int as with Python.

using BenchmarkTools

function caret(x, y)
  z = x ^ y

  return z

o = @benchmark caret(10, -3.)
println(minimum(o).time, " nanoseconds")

3.1 nanoseconds


Create a file my_test.go containing:

package main

import ("math"

func BenchmarkPower(b *testing.B) {
    for i := 0; i < b.N; i++ {
        math.Pow(10, -3)

then run

go test -bench=Power

Will result in something like:

BenchmarkPower-4        20000000                61.9 ns/op

go benchmark reference