Most MBA students are somewhat familiar with the basic concepts of programming, but many students don't really know how to code. Python is a great language for beginners. Also, Python is a popular programming language in the business world that is relatively easy to learn. In this article, we will walk through some basics of coding in Python and explore various resources so that you can get started coding on your own.
What is Python and Why is it a Good Language to Learn for Beginners?
Python is a high-level, interpreted, general-purpose programming language designed for ease of use and readability. Python was originally released in 1991, with the goal of making software development accessible even to those without a technical background. Python includes features such as code snippets, automatic memory management, integrated libraries for file operations, databases, graphical user interface (GUI) development, networking, numerical calculations, and more. This extensive collection of features is what makes Python such an attractive programming language for beginner programmers. Python has all the necessary pieces needed to quickly develop applications in a straightforward fashion. Not only is Python simple to learn due to its clean syntax but because Python is so widely used it has amazing support from other users in the Python community who can help answer questions that come up during development. Thus, Python is the language for any beginner programmer looking for a great place to create their first program.
The Basics of Coding in Python
A foundational understanding of the fundamentals of Python coding is essential if anyone wishes to write effective code. Outlining and organizing concepts into variables and data types, utilizing operators to perform calculations, and taking advantage of Python programming syntax are all essential steps toward achieving a successful Python-based project. Variables are the building blocks that allow Python programmers to store information within their programs. By creating variables, Python coders can assign different values such as integers, strings, or booleans that can later be used in calculations or within other parts of the program. This feature allows Python coders to change and manipulate the data stored within their program. Data types, on the other hand, allow Python coders to declare what type of variable they are using in their program such as integer, float, or boolean. Lastly, operators provide instructions for Python coders on how to manipulate these variables; there are standard arithmetic operations like addition or subtraction plus more advanced operations like modulus for extracting remainders after dividing a number by another number. Taking the time to understand these basics will ensure that Python coders have all the tools necessary to craft successful programs in Python.
Basic Python Elements and Syntax
A. Variables & Data Types
Python variables are used to store data. A variable can be assigned a value by using the equals sign (=). In this example, x is the variable, and 5 is the value that is stored in that variable:
- x = 5
Python has several different data types that can be used to store different types of information. The most common data types are numbers (int and float), strings, and lists. Examples of these data types in Python are as follows:
- int: This data type stores whole numbers. For example, the integer value 5 would be stored as 5.
- float: This data type stores decimal numbers. For example, the floating point value 3.14 would be stored as 3.14.
- string: This data type stores textual information. For example, the character string "Hello world!" would be stored as "Hello world!".
- list: This data type stores a collection of objects. For example, the list [1, 2, 3] would store the values 1, 2, and 3.
B. What are Operators & Expressions
Operators are symbols that are used in expressions to calculate a value. In Python, there are six common operators: +, -, *, /, %, and **.
- The + operator: is used to add two numbers together. For example, the expression 5 + 3 would return the value 8.
- The - operator: is used to subtract one number from another. For example, the expression 7 - 4 would return the value 3.
- The * operator: is used to multiply two numbers together. For example, the expression 6 * 9 would return the value 54.
- The / operator: is used to divide one number by another. For example, the expression 10 / 2 would return the value 5.
- The % operator: is used to find the remainder after division. For example, the expression 11 % 3 would return the value 2 because 2 is the remainder after dividing 11 by 3.
- The ** operator: is used to raise a number to a power. For example, the expression 5 ** 2 would return 25 because 25 is 5 multiplied by 5.
A Python expression is a combination of operators and values that is evaluated to produce a result. For example, the expression 5 + 3 would return the value 8 because 5 plus 3 equals 8.
Another example of an expression is 10 / 2. This expression calculates the value 5 because 10 divided by 2 equals 5.
C. What Are Control Flow Statements
Python has three control flow statements: if/else, loops, and try/except.
The if/else statement: is used to conditionally execute one block of code or another block of code. The if statement checks a condition and, if the condition is True, executes the code in the associated block. If the condition is False, the code in the else block will be executed. For example, the following code would output "Hello world!":
The loop statement: allows you to repeat a block of code a fixed number of times or until a certain condition is met. There are two types of loops in Python: while and for. The while loop repeats a block of code while a given condition is True. The for loop repeats a block of code a fixed number of times and includes an iterator variable that is used to access each item in a sequence. For example, the following code would output "1 2 3 4" because it uses a for loop to iterate through the numbers 1 through 4:
for i in range(1, 5):
The try/except statement: is used to handle exceptions that might occur when running a program. An exception is an error that occurs during the execution of a program. The try block contains code that could potentially generate an exception, and the except block contains code that will be executed if an exception occurs. For example, the following code would output "Error occurred!" if an exception were to occur:
except Exception as e:
D. What Are Functions?
A Python function is a block of code that performs a specific task. Functions are defined by their name and include a set of parameters that are used to input data into the function. For example, the following function takes two parameters, x and y, and calculates the value of x multiplied by y:
def multiply(x, y):
return x * y
The function can be called from another block of code by specifying the name of the function followed by a list of parameters in parentheses. For example, the following code would calculate the value 10 multiplied by 5:
E. Modules & Libraries
A Python module is a collection of related functions and classes that are organized into a single file. Modules are imported into other modules or into the Python interpreter to be used in your program. For example, the math module contains several functions that can be used to calculate square roots, logs, and other mathematical operations. The following code imports the math module and then calls the sqrt function to calculate the square root of 16:
Python also includes several standard libraries that provide additional functionality. These libraries are collections of modules that are included in the Python interpreter and can be imported just like any other module. For example, the os library provides functions for working with the operating system such as changing directories, renaming files, and creating subdirectories. The following code imports the os library and then calls the chdir function to change the current working directory:
Writing Your First Python Program
Writing your first Python program can be an intimidating task, but with the right guidance and best practices, it doesn't need to be. Python is a popular programming language based on objects and variables, helping developers to create algorithms that can solve problems. When you are getting started with Python, it's important to understand the basic concepts of coding and programming, such as data types and control flow. Once you have an understanding of these fundamental elements, you will be able to write your first Python program more effectively. It is also helpful to familiarize yourself with Python syntax and indentation rules so that your code will run properly. Finally, build good testing habits by always checking for errors when you are writing code so that you can quickly identify any problems or unexpected behavior before it becomes a big issue. With practice and dedication, writing python programs will become easier each time. So don't worry if you feel stuck. Simply keep pushing forward until that first Python program comes together!
A. Writing Simple Programs
You can write simple programs with print statements and input/output.
- print("Hello, world!")
B. Basic Data Structures
Python has several basic data structures, including lists, tuples, and dictionaries. In this section, we will explore the basics of working with lists in Python.
A list is a collection of items, which can be accessed by indexing. The first item in the list is at position 0, the second item is at position 1, and so on. To access an item in a list, use the index operator (). For example, the following list contains three items:
- list = ['apple', 'banana', 'cherry']
To access the third item in the list, use the index operator as follows:
This will print "cherry". You can also use negative indexes to access items from the end of the list. The last item in a list is at position -1, and the second-last item is at position -2. For example:
This will print "cherry" and "apple", respectively.
You can also add and remove items from a list using the append() and remove() methods. The append() method adds an item to the end of a list, while remove() removes an item from a list. For example:
- list = ['apple', 'banana']
- list.append('cherry') # Adds 'cherry' to the end of the list
- list.remove('apple') # Removes 'apple' from the list
Where To Go From Here
After taking the first steps in learning Python and exploring the fundamentals of coding, individuals new to the programming world may be uncertain where to turn for further guidance toward enhancing their Python skills. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available for cultivating Python skills. From focused online courses to interactive Python tutorials and beginner coding forums, expansive libraries of self-guided educational materials are just a few clicks away. Sites like Stack Overflow host Python communities that answer user questions on topics ranging from introductory syntax guides to high-level coding challenges. Additionally, web development platforms like Codecademy feature many Python-based projects and practice exercises that track progress through each lesson. Experienced coders can also build Python pyramids with CodeTrails, a game designed to introduce Python programming in an entertaining way and dispel some common myths about learning to code. No matter what your Python skill level is at present, patience and perseverance will set you on a course toward mastering all levels of Python programming! With several excellent resources at their disposal, an aspiring coder can embark confidently on their mission to become Python-savvy!
So, there you have it - a basic introduction to Python for coding beginners. We have covered what Python is, why it is a good language to learn, and some of the basics of coding in Python. If you want to start learning about this powerful programming language, we recommend completing this course: https://cognitiveclass.ai/courses/python-for-data-science. And if you want to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to emerging technologies, learning Python is a great place to start.
- The 10 Most Popular Programming Languages to Learn in 2022: https://www.northeastern.edu/graduate/blog/most-popular-programming-languages/
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- Python Tutorial:
- Python (Programming Language):
- How to Use Jupyter Notebook: A Beginner’s Tutorial:
- Python Software Foundation:
- Python - GitHub:
What are the benefits of learning Python?
Python is a high-level, interpreted, general-purpose programming language which means it is easy to learn for beginners and has many modules and libraries that allow for robust programming. Python also has a large community of software developers who are always happy to help with coding questions. Additionally, Python is used in many industries today including web development, data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics, and more.
What are some best practices for writing code in Python?
There are a few best practices to follow when writing code in Python. One is to always use indentation to indicate the structure of your code. You should also be sure to use descriptive variable and function names, and avoid using short, cryptic names. It is also important to write clean, organized code that is easy to read and understand.
Is Python open-source software?
Python is open-source software, widely used, and it is free to use. This makes it a popular choice for many software developers. Python has a large community of developers who contribute to the language, making it an ever-evolving platform. Additionally, there are many resources available online for learning Python. So whether you are a beginner or an experienced coder, there is something for everyone when it comes to learning Python.
What libraries are available
Python libraries are vast and diverse, offering functionality for everything from data science to web development. Some of the most popular Python libraries include NumPy, SciPy, Matplotlib, Pandas, and Seaborn for data science; Flask, Bottle, and Django for web development; and Requests for making HTTP requests. There are also libraries for working with images, videos, regular expressions, and more. To see a full list of Python libraries, visit the official Python website: https://www.python.org/library/.