Python is one of the most popular of all the computer programming languages, simply because it is one of the easiest to learn. It is an all-purpose language that has a range of different applications, such as:
¥ Web development
¥ Mathematical and Scientific Computing
¥ Graphical user interface for the desktop
Python has a very clean syntax and short code which makes it ideal for the beginner. Not only that, Python is fun because, rather than spending all your time worrying about the syntax, you get to spend time thinking about what your code is going to do instead.
Python is an old language, developed in the 1980's and being released for the first time in 1991. It was developed because Guido van Rossum wanted to create a language that was easy to understand and that could access the Amoeba system he was working on. That led to Python, an interpreted and extensible language that was named after Monty Python's Flying Circus for no reason other than the creator was a fan!
Python is so much easier to write and to read than many other languages and is one of the most feature-packed. Benefits include:
¥ It's free and its open source – anyone can use Python and anyone can make changes to the source code and distribute it for themselves.
¥ Portable – Python programs can move from one platform to another can be run without the need to make any changes
¥ Embeddable and Extensible – Python code can be combined with bits of another computer language to produce a high-performance code and scripting abilities which are not always available with other languages out of the box
¥ Interpreted Language – Python does a lot of jobs, like garbage collection, memory management and so on automatically. Also, when your code is run, it will automatically be converted into a code that is understood by your computer system
¥ Libraries – Python contains a lot of libraries with much of the code needed to perform common tasks and cut down on the amount of code you need to write
¥ Object-Oriented - because everything that is in Python is an object, it is far easier to solve complex problems – each can be broken down into smaller problems through the creation of objects.
Python is backed up with a large active community who are constantly striving to improve the language for beginners and experts alike. Use this community as they are of invaluable help to you.
If you are quite ready, we are going to look at the basics of Python programming now. First, I will show you how to install it on your computer and then we will go through the basic concepts. There are going to be plenty of examples for you to input into Python and try or yourself. This is the best way to learn so I urge you to get your Python environment set up and work along with this book – you will learn so much more than if you just read it.
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