Fun Python Project - What Can You Do With Python

Why You Should Learn Python?

Python become one of the top-choice programming languages. Trendy startups and big corporations often use this language. Anyone can learn to code Python, be it children or top-notch developers. You are very likely to see Python in an Introduction to Programming class. If you have no programming background and would like to learn only one programming language, your top choice is Python.

  • Python is easy to learn
    As a Stanford professor Donald Knuth once said, "It was nice to learn Python; a nice afternoon". Just in one day you can learn enough Python to write something fun.
  • Python has a high level of abstraction
    This means you can focus on the big picture rather than thinking about low-level implementation details. For example, if you want to analyze stock performance, your primary concern will be understanding of finance. You won’t have to think about allocation of computer memory – Python will take care of that. This makes you quicker and productive. Typically, Python would require less lines of code than a language such as Java or C++.
  • Python ecosystem
    Whatever software application you imagine, you most probably can write it in Python. Websites, games, mobile apps, financial analysis, computer vision, artificial intelligence – there are Python libraries for that.
  • Python is a “glue language” that connects different standards
    You can use Python as an interface to access libraries written in multiple programming languages, such as C or Fortran.
  • Python community
    A lot of people around the world already code in Python, and the community is huge. Famous websites like YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest use Python. The Python language is commonly used is big companies such as NASA, Google, IBM, Intel, Disney.

Fun Python Project – What Can You Do With Python?

Web Development

You can use Python to develop web applications of any level of complexity. You can start with lightweight apps by using a library like Flask, and proceed to advanced web apps with extended functionality – by using Django framework.

Django can handle complex applications with multiple features and high load. For example, web commenting service Disqus scaled their Python/Django app to process 165k messages per second. Mobile photo-sharing service Instagram, which serves millions of requests per second, uses a complex technical architecture with Django on their application servers.

Comparison with other languages:
If you learn web programming with Python, you can develop apps faster than in PHP or Java.
Compared to Ruby on Rails, Django lets you take advantage of multiple scientific libraries which exist for Python. This means you can quickly add features which require using something very specific, such as machine learning or natural language processing. There is a high probability that these tools are already added to Python.

Data Wrangling with Python

Python is commonly used for advanced algorithms and scientific data analysis. This is a popular language-of-choice for data scientists, along with systems such as R or MATLAB. There is a number of powerful statistical and numerical packages in Python which are available for free and are constantly updated by the community, and new tools are added every day.

  • Pandas: Python Data Analysis Library is an efficient tool for working with datasets. Thanks to this library, many data cleaning, data exploration, preprocessing and analysis tasks can be done with just a few lines of Python.
  • Scikit-Learn: Machine learning toolset, complete with data pre-processing, popular training algorithms and evaluation of their performance. If you would like to predict customer satisfaction or analyze which factors will affect household prices, this library can help you. There are other Python libraries for similar tasks, such as NLTK or TensorFlow.
  • Jupyter Notebook: An interactive notebook which can be helpful for logging and re-running your experiments. It is smarter than a command line and more convenient than scripts stored in traditional files.
  • Matplotlib, Seaborn: Libraries for data visualization.
  • NLTK: A library for natural language processing, for tasks such as spam filtering or sentiment analysis.
  • NetworkX: a Python library for social network analysis, with an opportunity to create impressive network graph visualizations.

Internet of Things: Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is a tiny affordable computer which was designed for education and gains popularity in hobby projects, such as do-it-yourself hardware and automation. Python is a language of choice for this tiny computer. This device can fit almost anywhere and is perfect for home automation. You can design a smart feeder for your car, a talking telephone toy or basically anything you can imagine – basic knowledge of electronics may be required.

Game Development

PyGame is a set of modules for writing video games in Python. The basic idea is to use Python to write the logic of the game, using Python as a high-level interface to optimized modules which handle computationally expensive graphics. PyGame applications can run on Android phones.

Mobile Apps

Though it’s not a common use of Python, you can use the same language to develop mobile apps. Kivy is an open source Python library to create mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows using interactive features, such as multi-touch support. You can write the code once and run your app on all supported platforms, which additionally include Linux and Mac OS X.

Beginner Python Projects:

Even if you already know a lot about programming, you can try to complete several tutorials for beginners to appreciate the power of this language.

  • A simple microblog application in Flask:
  • Creating a basic poll application in Django:
  • A mobile ping-pong game using Kivy:

Python Programming Language's History: What is Python?

Python was first designed in the late 1980s by Guido van Rossum, a computer programmer from the Netherlands. It was a hobby project, and Guido chose the title “Python” because he was a big fan of the British comedy series “Monty Python's Flying Circus”.

The second version of Python appeared in 2000. Around this time the language development became more community-based, and Python started to attract more attention. The language is open source, and anyone can contribute to its development. The code is designed to be as readable as plain English. The idea was to create a powerful and intuitive programming language.

Probably the most important boost for Python’s reputation as a powerful programming language was its early adoption by Google. “Python has been an important part of Google since the beginning, and remains so as the system grows and evolves”, said Peter Norvig. By 2004, the language became so prominent at Google that they invited Guido van Rossum, the creator of the language, to work as a software engineer. Guido has worked at Google in 2005-2012; now he works at the cloud storage company Dropbox.

The most controversial moment in Python’s history was the release of Python 3. This new version of Python is incompatible with Python 2, which created a big barrier for its adoption. The final release of Python 3 appeared in 2008 – but probably only in 2016 the community will reach the point when Python 3 is supported by most Python libraries.

A Brief Introduction to Python Programming Language:

Python was designed as an interpreted language – you can type instructions into the command line and quickly get the results. The easiest way to work in Python for beginners is by using an interactive command line.

If you launch Python on your computer and try typing a few commands:

> import this

This command will show “Zen of Python”, a list of principles behind Python.

> import antigravity

This is a surprise “Easter egg” in Python – try it yourself.

Getting to more serious things, let us see basics of Python using a simple example. Imagine we have a list of grades between 0 and 10, and we want to calculate the average grade. The code can look the following way:

grades = [10, 7, 9, 8]
average_grade = sum(grades) / len(grades)

In this case, the average grade is calculated as the sum of all values in the list, divided by the length of the list – namely the total number of elements it contains.

A data scientist will use a library function “mean” which will calculate the average value automatically:

from numpy import mean
average_grade = mean(grades)

Overall, Python is designed as a language which can be read as plain English. For example, the following sequence can absolutely appear in Python code:

if is_rainy(today) or is_rainy(tomorrow):

Please note four whitespaces in the next line after “if”: this indentation is also a part of the language. It explicitly shows that all indented instructions are related to “if”. Indentation is designed to replace curly braces {} which you might remember from C and Java, and its goal is to make the language more readable.

Advantages of Python:

  1. Python has a low entry barrier, there are multiple libraries available, big ecosystem and community. This is a programming language which is perfect for beginners and still sophisticated enough to be used in complex engineering tasks.
  2. Python is a perfect language for rapid prototyping: if you would like to quickly create a new tool from scratch or validate an idea you have, be it a scientific idea or a minimum viable product for a startup, Python would be a perfect language for it.
  3. Python doesn’t require thinking a lot from the machine point of view – in general, the language gets out of the way and lets you think about the big picture.
  4. Python doesn’t dictate a programming paradigm – if you are an experienced programmer, you can use it with whatever coding style you prefer, be it functional programming, object-oriented programming, or scripting.

Disadvantages of Python:

  1. Speed of development doesn’t come for free – the cost is the speed of execution. Python is slower than lower-level languages like C and C++. It shouldn’t matter too much in the era of distributed computing and commodity hardware, but sometimes developers are still concerned about Python’s speed. It is up to you to decide what matters more: saving your time or optimizing the speed of your programs. Often the optimal solution would be to make a quick prototype in Python and to optimize your program later if needed. You can even rewrite bottleneck modules in a language like C.
  2. Incompatibility of Python 2 and Python 3 is another source of complaints. Currently the two branches of Python co-exist peacefully, and newer updates of Python 2 still appear.
  3. Forced indentation in Python is another common concern. You will usually hear it from experienced software developers who have always used curly braces {} or instructions such as “begin … end” to mark where a set of instructions begins and where it ends. A popular argument is that whitespace can completely change the behavior of your program, and it’s easy to make a mistake with whitespaces. It’s particularly difficult in the documents where whitespace is alternated with “Tab” symbols. However, it shouldn’t be a problem once you start writing in Python.

The Benefit of Having Python Programming Skills:

Coding in Python is a universal skill which can help you in a variety of tasks. After learning the basics of the language and the standard library, you can expand your skills in any direction you want.

Basic Python skills will take you to a level where you can decide to focus on web applications, games development, mobile apps, scientific computing, financial analysis, natural language processing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, or anything else you can imagine. This technology can solve a variety of business problems. Do you have to build an online platform for selling second-hand clothes? Or to understand how attitude of customers towards a specific brand changed over time? Or make a home automaton system? Or generate customized certificates for students of an online course? You can do almost anything in Python.

For experienced programmers, Python will be a useful tool for writing quick scripts and rapid prototypes. Even if you won’t choose Python as your primary programming language, its features and ecosystem has a lot to offer.

What Do You Need to Learn Python?

Skills required to learn Python:
You don’t need any particular skills to learn Python: your willingness to learn is enough. There are multiple materials and courses that will teach you how to code in Python without a need of any specific skills. Of course, if you already know one or two programming languages, on boarding will be easier for you, but this is not a requirement. Taking a Python course online may be all you need.

System requirements:

  • If you use Linux or Mac OS, Python should be already installed in your system.
  • If you use Windows, you may want to read the notes on how to install Python:
  • If you love MATLAB and R, take a look at Scientific PYthon Development EnviRonment:
  • Depending on your needs, you may want to install additional libraries later.

Please remember that you can also learn Python online without a need to install anything – it will depend on the online course you choose. Several courses come with interactive web-based tools which run Python.

Top Resources to Learn Python Online:

Google Python Class
A quick introduction to Python for programmers. If you already know terminology like “variables”, “strings” or “loops”, this class will quickly get you up to speed with Python.

Coursera: An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python, Rice University
Learn Python by building simple interactive tools and games. No knowledge of programming required.

Coursera: Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python), University of Michigan
A good introductory course to Python programming for beginners. You don’t need to know anything about coding.

EdX 6.00.1x: Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python, Massachusetts Institute of Technology×8
If you are not afraid of taking a rigorous university course to understand programming, try taking this class. You will learn fundamentals of Computer Science and a great deal about Python.

Try Python by Code School
An interactive course for beginners which is easy to follow: read the instructions, type your solution and get an immediate feedback.

Python class by Code Academy
Another interactive course similar to Code School.

Learn Python the Hard Way
This is an online version of a popular book. Learning Python “the hard way” means a lot of practice and exercises.

This list is not exhaustive – you can find a variety of tutorials online, from “Learn Python in 10 minutes” to detailed documentation of Python libraries with examples.

A list of Python tutorials for non-programmers
A list of Python titorials for programmers

Python Courses from Udemy 
Udemy is the leading online learning platform that offers massive IT training courses, including Python tutorials. You can start from basic courses to advanced courses there.

As you see, there are different ways of learning Python online: you can use study materials, interactive tools, and take online classes offered by universities. It all depends on your preferences and personal learning style.

The Benefit of Learning Python by Taking Online Courses:

There will be a lot of other students taking the same class with you. There will be deadlines to keep you accountable, discussion forums where you can get the answers you need, and excitement of learning new material together. Last but not least, there are perks which can give you additional motivation: you can get a verified certificate, and mention it in your resume or LinkedIn profile.

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