Skip to Main Content

Programming with Python

An introduction to programming with Python. Includes how to get started with Python, coding in Python with Jupyter Notebooks, and various links where you can learn more.

Why learn to code?

Have you ever had the need to replicate a computational task across hundreds of files? Have you ever wished you could more quickly extract information from texts? Visualize patterns buried within data - whether that data be quantitative datasets, texts, images, or video? Have you ever been frustrated by proprietary software - the costs, the limitations, or how they often require you to save data in formats that cannot be used with other software? Have you ever been frustrated by having to repeatedly redo tasks you've done before? (computational tasks that is! you're still on your own for laundry)

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may want to learn to consider to code.

Through computational programming you can complete tasks in a way that:

  • scales up: from datasets of dozens of students in a class to datasets of hundreds of millions of people
  • automates the tedious, so you can spend more time on the fun stuff
  • reproduces: do it once, do it a thousand times
  • identifies and visualizes patterns in your research data
  • is affordable (ahem... free!)
  • is accessible: you can collaborate with people across the globe as long as they have a computer and an internet connection
  • is open source (not only free, but anyone can contribute)
  • is flexible: you are only limited by your own imagination (and not by the imagination or priorities of a software developer)
  • uses / creates file formats (like .csv and .txt files) that are:
    • transferable
    • sustainable

Why Python?

Python is:

  1. A high-level language (easier for humans to understand)
    1. a great programming language for beginners
  2. A general language:
    1. has an extensive library of packages to perform a wide variety of tasks
    2. For researchers: quantitative data analysis, text analysis, data visualization, machine learning
  3. A popular language
    1. in demand in all sectors of the economy (academia, private sector, public sector, etc.)
    2. with a large network of researchers making it easy to find collaborators, to share and borrow code, and to find tutorials and debugging advice.

For more on what makes Python unique, see W3 Schools: What is Python?