math.fabs() converts its argument to float if it can (if it can't, it throws an exception). It then takes the absolute value, and returns the result as a float.

In addition to floats, abs() also works with integers and complex numbers. Its return type depends on the type of its argument.

In [7]: type(abs(-2))
Out[7]: int
In [8]: type(abs(-2.0))
Out[8]: float
In [9]: type(abs(3+4j))
Out[9]: float
In [10]: type(math.fabs(-2))
Out[10]: float
In [11]: type(math.fabs(-2.0))
Out[11]: float
In [12]: type(math.fabs(3+4j))
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
TypeError Traceback (most recent call last)
/home/alexei/<ipython-input-12-8368761369da> in <module>()
----> 1 type(math.fabs(3+4j))
TypeError: can't convert complex to float