5 PEP 237: Unifying Long Integers and Integers

In recent versions, the distinction between regular integers, which are 32-bit values on most machines, and long integers, which can be of arbitrary size, was becoming an annoyance. For example, on platforms that support files larger than 2**32 bytes, the tell() method of file objects has to return a long integer. However, there were various bits of Python that expected plain integers and would raise an error if a long integer was provided instead. For example, in Python 1.5, only regular integers could be used as a slice index, and 'abc'[1L:] would raise a TypeError exception with the message 'slice index must be int'.

Python 2.2 will shift values from short to long integers as required. The 'L' suffix is no longer needed to indicate a long integer literal, as now the compiler will choose the appropriate type. (Using the 'L' suffix will be discouraged in future 2.x versions of Python, triggering a warning in Python 2.4, and probably dropped in Python 3.0.) Many operations that used to raise an OverflowError will now return a long integer as their result. For example:

>>> 1234567890123
>>> 2 ** 64

In most cases, integers and long integers will now be treated identically. You can still distinguish them with the type() built-in function, but that's rarely needed.

See Also:

PEP 237, Unifying Long Integers and Integers
Written by Moshe Zadka and Guido van Rossum. Implemented mostly by Guido van Rossum.

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