Monday, August 21, 2006

If You Need To Teach Programming To Physics Students In Two Days, ...

... you can try Python! See the handbook developed at Oxford here.

Python is my favorite programming language now.* A programmer should be able to learn (and start to be productive in) Python in an afternoon using the tutorial that comes with the installation. For a more detailed introduction, Dive Into Python by Mark Pilgrim is very hard to beat. I bought his book even though he lets us see all the contents on the web, just to show my appreciation.

If you use Linux/Unix or Mac, you should already have Python installed. If you use Windows, you can download the Python installer at or use ActiveState's package (which I use.)

There are useful collections of Python recipes at Python Cookbook and Python Grimoire. You can see and learn from example programs there.

If you are hungry for even more tutorials, you can come to this page where you will find 300+ tutorials about using Python in all kinds of things.

As for the editor and development environment, you can use the included IDLE or PythonWin editor, but I prefer SPE and PyScripter. PyScripter runs only on Windows but SPE runs everywhere that Python runs.

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*My preferred programming languages in the decreasing order are: Python, Mathematica, C++ (which I use like C with STL), C, Perl, Delphi, and VBA. I only read Java, but do not write programs in it. I hope to learn about Haskell, Erlang, and Lisp in the coming years.

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