# 1.2. Compute with Numbers¶

Computers were first used for numeric calculations. You may be used to doing calculations with a
calculator, but calculations are often easier if you can *name* the numbers you are working with.
When you name a number, or the result of a calculation, you are creating a **variable**. A
**variable** is a name associated with computer memory that can hold a value and that value can
change or vary. One example of a **variable** is the score in a game. The score starts off at 0
and increases as you play the game.

One thing that you might want to calculate is the monthly payment on a loan for a car. To do so, you can use this mathematical formula:

\(A = P \frac{r(1 + r)^n}{(1 + r)^n - 1}\)

That formula uses the following variables:

**P**: The**principle**- the amount of the original loan**r**The monthly interest**rate**expressed as a decimal value. Loans are often described interms of an

*APR*or Annual Percentage Rate that must be divided by 1200 to produce the right value for r.

**n**: The**number**of monthly payments

It calculates the value **A** which is the payment **amount**.

The Python program below sets some values for these variables and then does the calculations needed to produce the payment.

Press the button below to make the computer execute these steps. The output from this program will be displayed to the right of the program.

You can only use the *Save* and *Load* buttons if you are logged in. The *Save* button will save
the current program and the *Load* button will load a saved program.

Currently the code is calculating the payment for a $10,000 loan at an APR of 4.9% over 60 months.
Try changing the numeric values for P, APR, and n in the program above, and press the *Run* button
to calculate the payment for a different loan. Note that some of the symbols used in Python are
different than those we normally use for math: `*`

means “multiply” and `**`

means “to the
power of”.

Also visible in the code are some **comments**. Comments are pieces of text that come after a `#`

symbol, like `# $10,000 - notice we don't use ,'s in numbers`

. Python will ignore these comments
and they are colored differently than the code to indicate that they are not actual code. Comments
are used by programmers to leave notes to themselves and others about the code. Try deleting a
`#`

in the program above and then running it. You will get an error message because now Python is
trying to run the note as if it was code.

Note

Notice how naming the values (using variables) for things like **n** makes it easier to see which
values to change to make the program calculate a different loan.

- 134.48
- That would be the right dollar amount, but the computer will give you more digits than that.
- 134.4794369902589
- Yes!
- 134
- No, the computer does not round the result.
- 135
- No, the computer does not round the result.

Try calculating the payment for an $8,000 loan at 6.5% interest over 72 months. What is the monthly payment?