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Introduction to Programming I

by: Donnell Kertzmann

Introduction to Programming I CSE 231

Donnell Kertzmann
GPA 3.97

Richard Enbody

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Richard Enbody
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Donnell Kertzmann on Saturday September 19, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to CSE 231 at Michigan State University taught by Richard Enbody in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 15 views. For similar materials see /class/207415/cse-231-michigan-state-university in Computer Science and Engineering at Michigan State University.

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Date Created: 09/19/15
The Science and Practice of Computing using Python A CSl Text1 by William Punch and Richard Enbody A first course in computer science is about a new way of solving problems computationally The choice of language can have an impact on how one approaches problems In addition the language can impact the kinds ofproblems that can be addressed in the course We have chosen Python as a the introductory language for CSl students majors and non majors alike based on our combined 30 year experience in teaching undergraduate introductory computer science at a Big Ten university In that time we have moved from Pascal to C and now to Python We selected Python for the following reasons 1 N W F U39l Fquot Python is a wonderful language for data analysis allowing students to work on real problems analyzing data sets downloaded from a variety of sources on the Internet For example our students have analyzed breast cancer data catalogued movie actor relationships and predicted disruptions of satellites from solar storms Python is an interpreted language allowing students to type in expressions and observe the results In particular most of the interpreters provide dynamic help to understand a function s or class s purpose and arguments Unlike many languages Python intends to quotkeep it simple In general there are fewer options many times only one option for programmatic goals reducing the cognitive load on a student learning a programming language The focus of programming should be problem solving and keeping the added load oflearning the programming language itself should be minimized Python provides access to some advanced concepts including advanced data structures such as sets and dictionaries and processing such as iteration through the elements in a complex data structure Making these available as part of the basic Python package allows students to address realworld problems earlier in the studies Python contains features that are particularly helpful to novice programmers Indention is required A single equal sign is not allowed in a Boolean expression All variables must be initialized Python contains all the typical programming constructs that one expects in a modern language especially classes We have found that transitioning to C to be reasonable for our students see below Of particular importance the Python community is very broad and provides access to a wide variety ofpackages for everything from science to art Thus students can do meaningful work in their area ofinterest having learned the basics of Python 1 The title has not been finalized 8 Finally after one semester of Python students have sufficient command of the language to be able to write useful programs When we started our transition to Python a C51 text did not exist so we began writing one The goals we have for the book are as follows 1 The book is intended to teach the general concepts of C51 to both majors and non majors Our goal is not to teach the language Python but instead to teach CSl concepts using Python as a vehicle As such we cover general concepts such as hardware complexity and software engineering as well as general concepts of programming using the Python language While these topics are often considered quotfor majors general understanding of C51 concepts will aid all introductory students 2 We focus early on practical examples of programming focusing on data manipulation as the general theme All students will need to be able to manipulate data sort it apply statistics to it graph it convert it no matter their area of expertise and we hope to exploit that need As mentioned we develop realworld examples that observe trends in sunspot data predicting the solar cycle use statistics to classify breastcancer data combine results for searches to the IMDB Internet Movie DataBase and others Such an approach is more gender neutral than other approaches such as games or graphics and more useful 3 Our approach is an quotobjectusefirst approach where we use objects and their methods early while leaving the design and implementation of objects for later 4 In the end if a student takes no other programming course than one such as this they can be productive programmers who understand general principles of computation and can produce useful meaningful results in their respective fields of study Python is showing up in major courses nonmajor courses big schools small schools research institutions firstyear courses and higherlevel courses Among that diverse group our target is the C51 course that includes a significant nonmajor component We emphasize both problemsolving and programming skills Nonmajors should emerge with sufficient programming skills to perform computational analysis of data in their field Majors should be prepared for a C52 course in a different language We expect our approach to be attractive for schools similar to ours a large Big10 university However by targeting CSl courses with a mix of majors and nonmajors we will not be eliminating smaller schools Such a C51 course in Python could be helpful to the broader CS community by helping with recruitment and retention especially with women Python is a wonderful tool for manipulating data both scientific and nonscientific In particular the availability of large data sets on the Internet provides problems in a variety of nontraditional areas One can answer questions from cancer trends to 39degrees of interaction among actors to when sunspots are next likely to disrupt communication satellites Broadening the problems to solve while bringing in actual data promises to make the course attractive to a broader audience especially those not interested in firstpersonshooter games


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