Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Python: how to start learning?

Many (most?) people that want to start learning Python are confused about where to start. So many options! Motivated by this, I list in this post the references that I used to learn Python (and object-oriented programming as well), which can serve as a starting point for other people. I had scientists in mind when I wrote this post.

Beginner material

Learned the basic syntax and capabilities of the language with the official Python tutorial. You can download all of this as PDF files. I suggest this for people with previous programming experience. For absolute beginners, have a look at the Think Python book below.

Introductory lecture about Python, its syntax and science applications. It shows what Python is capable of for data analysis and plotting. Inspiring. The audio is also available for download as a MP3 file.

Tutorial on using Python for data analysis! How to on how to replace IDL/Matlab with Python, essentially. Includes: plotting, FITS files, signal processing.

I learned object-oriented programming using this material. Very clear and "application-oriented" approach. You don't need to be a biologist to understand this.

Longer introduction for people with no previous extensive programming experience.

Quick reference

Migrating from IDL/Matlab to Python.

If you are going to do serious stuff with Python, I suggest using the enhanced interactive Python terminal IPython.

Longer introductory books

Learning Python, Mark Lutz

A primer on scientific programming with Python, Hans Petter Langtangen

Longer reference books

Python essential reference, David Beazley

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