Notes for Python Meetup

April 11, 2011

Allen Downey

How I started teaching with Python

1) Wrote a Java book (what’s wrong with textbooks!)

2) Free license -> Jeff translated it into Python.

3) Adopted the book, learned Python.  Lesson: a free book is not the same product with a different license; it’s a different product.

4) Moved to Olin, finally got to use my own book.

Why I teach with Python

1) Lower failure rate: cognitive capacity limits.

2) Get from zero to interesting faster: barrier to CS is the escalating cool threshold.

3) Good use of student time: Maximum ratio of long lifespan knowledge to rapidly obsolete; generally applicable to specific and detailed.

Where we use it

1) Intro class with Think Python / Python for Software Design.

2) Computational modeling with Computational Modeling and Complexity Science.

3) Computational prob stat with Think Stats.

4) Software synchronization with The Little Book of Semaphores.