Mastering Python

Discussion in 'Python' started by Gerald, Mar 16, 2007.

  1. Gerald

    Gerald Guest

    Hi ,Im a BSc4 Maths/Computer Science student.Unfortunately my
    curriculum did not include Python programming yet I see many vacancies
    for Python developers.I studied programming Pascal,C++ and Delphi.So I
    need to catch up quickly and master Python programming.How do you
    suggest that I achieve this goal?Is python platform independent?What
    is the best way?And how long would it take before I can develop
    applications using python?Can you recommend websites that feature a
    gentle introduction to Python?
     
    Gerald, Mar 16, 2007
    #1
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  2. In <>, Gerald wrote:

    > Can you recommend websites that feature a gentle introduction to Python?


    If you already know programming in general, `Dive Into Python`_ might be a
    good starting point. And of course the tutorial in the Python
    documentation.

    _Dive Into Python: http://www.diveintopython.org/

    Ciao,
    Marc 'BlackJack' Rintsch
     
    Marc 'BlackJack' Rintsch, Mar 16, 2007
    #2
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  3. Gerald a écrit :
    > Hi ,Im a BSc4 Maths/Computer Science student.Unfortunately my
    > curriculum did not include Python programming yet I see many vacancies
    > for Python developers.I studied programming Pascal,C++ and Delphi.So I
    > need to catch up quickly and master Python programming.How do you
    > suggest that I achieve this goal?Is python platform independent?What
    > is the best way?And how long would it take before I can develop
    > applications using python?Can you recommend websites that feature a
    > gentle introduction to Python?


    Most of your questions are answered on python.org. May I suggest that
    you start there ?

    Briefly:
    * "mastering" a language takes years, whatever the language.
    * the first step is of course learning the language !-)
    * given your background, I'd suggest first the official Python
    tutorial, then diveintopython. Reading this ng might help too.
    * Yes, Python is (mostly) platform-independent - at least as long a
    you don't use platform-dependent modules
    * An average programmer may become productive with Python in a matter
    of days - but really taking advantage of Python's power is another story.


    If you like programming, chances are you'll enjoy Python. So welcome on
    board !-)

    HTH
     
    Bruno Desthuilliers, Mar 16, 2007
    #3
  4. Gerald

    Paul McGuire Guest

    On Mar 16, 6:41 am, "Gerald" <> wrote:
    > Hi ,Im a BSc4 Maths/Computer Science student.Unfortunately my
    > curriculum did not include Python programming yet I see many vacancies
    > for Python developers.I studied programming Pascal,C++ and Delphi.So I
    > need to catch up quickly and master Python programming.How do you
    > suggest that I achieve this goal?Is python platform independent?What
    > is the best way?And how long would it take before I can develop
    > applications using python?Can you recommend websites that feature a
    > gentle introduction to Python?


    Stop thinking about *how* to start and *just start*. Python is pretty
    intuitive, especially if you have other language background to relate
    to. Download the Python dist for your platform (Linux? probably
    already there - Windows? binary installers from python.org or
    activestate will install in a snap). Run through the first few pages
    of any of the dozen or more online tutorials to start getting your
    fingernails dirty. You'll need a text editor with integrated building
    - I find SciTE and PyScripter to be good for beginners (and I still
    use SciTE after 4 years of Python programming).

    You know C++ and Pascal? You already know the basic if-then-else,
    while, and for control structure concepts. Here are some C++-to-
    Python tips:
    - There's no switch statement in Python. Make do with cascading if/
    elif/else until you come across the dict dispatch idiom.
    - There's no '?' operator in Python. If you download the latest
    version (2.5), there is an equivalent "x if y else z" which would map
    to "y ? x : z" using the ternary operator. But lean towards explict
    readability vs. one-liner obscurity at least for a few days.
    - Forget about new/delete. To construct an object of type A, call A's
    constructor using "newA = A()". To delete A, let if fall out of
    scope, or explicitly unbind the object from the name "newA" with "newA
    = None".
    - Forget about "for(x = 0; x < 10; x++)". Python loops iterate over
    collections, or anything with an __iter__ method or __getitem__
    method. This is much more like C++'s "for(listiter = mylist.first();
    listiter != mylist.end(); ++listiter)". To force a for loop to
    iterate 'n' times, use "for i in range(n):". The range built-in
    returns the sequence [0, 1, 2, ..., n-1]. Don't commit this beginner's
    blunder:
    list1 = [ 1, 2, 3 ]
    for i in range(len(list1)):
    # do something with list1
    Instead do:
    for elem in list1:
    # do something with elem, which points to each element of
    # list1 each time through the loop
    If you really need the list index, use enumerate, as in:
    for i,elem in enumerate(list1):
    print "The %d item of the list is %s" % (i,elem)
    (Hey, check out those string formatting placeholders, they borrow
    heavily from C's printf notation. Oh, they don't teach that anymore,
    and you used iostreams in C++ instead? Bummer.)
    - Forget about braces {}'s. For some reason, this is a big deal for
    some people, but give it a chance. Just indent code as you would
    normally, and leave out the braces. Personally I set my editor to
    replace tabs with spaces, this is a style choice - but do NOT mix tabs
    and spaces. In the end, you will find this liberating, especially if
    you have ever been on a project that had to define a coding standard,
    and spent way too much time (more then 30 seconds) arguing about
    "where the braces should go."
    - Don't forget the ()'s. To invoke a method on an object, you must
    include the parens. This wont do anything:
    a = "some string"
    a = a.lower
    You need this:
    a = a.lower()
    - Stop thinking about variables as addresses and storage locations,
    and start thinking about them as values bound to names. Even so, I
    still find myself using words like "assignment" and "variable", when
    strictly I should be saying "binding" and "name".

    What does Python have that C++ doesn't?
    - The biggie: dynamic typing (sometimes called "duck typing").
    Dynamic typing is a huge simplifier for development:
    . no variable declarations
    . no method type signatures
    . no interface definitions needed
    . no templating for collections
    . no method overloading by differing argument type signatures
    ("Imagine there's no data types - I wonder if you can..."). What? No
    static type-checking at compile time? Nope, not really. If your
    method expects an object of type X, use it like an X. If it's not an
    X, you may be surprised how often this is not a problem. For
    instance, here's a simple debugging routine:
    def printClassOf(x):
    print x.__class__.__name__
    Every object has the attribute __class__ and every class has the
    attribute __name__. In C++, I'd have to go through extra contortions
    *not* to type the variable x, probably call it something non-intuitive
    like "void*". Or look at this example:
    def printLengthOf(x):
    print "Length of x is", len(x)
    x could be any collection class, or user-defined class that is
    sufficiently like a collection to support len (such as implementing
    the __len__ method). This class doesn't even have to exist when you
    write printLengthOf, it may come along years later.
    - An interactive interpreter. Awfully handy for just trying things
    out, without having to go through the compile/link/run cycle. Also
    good for getting at documentation on built-in and custom objects and
    methods - type "help(blah)" to get help on method or class blah.
    - Language built-in types for list, tuple (a type of list that is
    immutable), dict (akin to map<x,y> in the C++ STL), and set. Since
    Python does dynamic typing, no need to templatize these collection
    types, just iterate over them and use the objects in them.
    . Lists look like [ 1, 2, 3, "ABC", [ 4,5 ] ]
    . Tuples look like ( "Bob", "Smith", "12345 River St.", 52 )
    . Dicts look like { "Bob" : 52, "Joe" : 24 }
    . Sets look like set("A", "B", "C")
    - Language built-in types for string and unicode
    - Multiple variable assignment - you can unpack a list into individual
    variables using:
    a,b,c = 1,2,3
    list1 = [ 4,5,6 ]
    a,b,c = list1 (will assign 4 to a, 5 to b, and 6 to c)
    Forget about the classic C chestnut to swap a and b:
    a ^= b; b ^= a; a ^= b;
    Just do:
    a,b = b,a

    - Compound return types - need 3 or 4 values returned from a
    function? Just return them. No need for clunky make_pair<>
    templates, or ad hoc struct definitions just to handle some complex
    return data, or (ick!) out parameters. Multiple assignment will take
    care of this:
    def func():
    return 4,5,6

    a,b,c = func()

    - Flexible and multiline quoting. Quoted string literals can be set
    of using ""s, ''s, or triple quotes (""" """, or ''' '''). The triple
    quote versions can extend to multiple lines.
    - Built-in doc strings. If you have a function written like this:
    def func():
    "A function that returns 3 consecutive ints, starting with 4"
    return 4,5,6
    then typing "help(func)" at the interactive interpreter prompt will
    return the string "A function that...". This is called the function's
    docstring, and just about any object (class, function, module) can
    have one.
    - A huge library of common application modules. The latest version
    includes support for the SQLite database.

    And a part of the Python "getting it" that usually takes place in the
    first hour or two of *just starting* is encapsulated in the Zen of
    Python. Type "import this" at the interpreter command line, and
    you'll see a list of basic concepts behind the language and its
    design. It is true, there are some dorky in-jokes in there, but look
    past them and pick up the nuggets of Python wisdom.

    Wow, are you still reading? Quit wasting time and go download a
    Python dist and get started already!

    -- Paul
     
    Paul McGuire, Mar 16, 2007
    #4
  5. Gerald

    Paul McGuire Guest

    On Mar 16, 6:41 am, "Gerald" <> wrote:
    > Hi ,Im a BSc4 Maths/Computer Science student.Unfortunately my
    > curriculum did not include Python programming yet I see many vacancies
    > for Python developers.I studied programming Pascal,C++ and Delphi.So I
    > need to catch up quickly and master Python programming.How do you
    > suggest that I achieve this goal?Is python platform independent?What
    > is the best way?And how long would it take before I can develop
    > applications using python?Can you recommend websites that feature a
    > gentle introduction to Python?


    P.S. You'll get further faster with Python than with Java or Perl,
    where you posted similar "how do I master language X?" requests. I've
    used Java and suffered through Perl. Compared to Perl, Python a) has
    less magic symbology/punctuation, and b) treats you more like an adult
    ("open x or die"? Come on!). Java syntax is so bloated you have to
    tack on Eclipse plug-ins by the fistful to auto-generate the wrapper
    junk code around the code you really wanted to get run.

    Get thee to www.python.org, and get going, post haste!
     
    Paul McGuire, Mar 16, 2007
    #5
  6. Gerald

    Dave Hansen Guest

    On Mar 16, 8:39 am, "Paul McGuire" <> wrote:
    [...]
    > Stop thinking about *how* to start and *just start*. Python is pretty


    Indeed. Of all the fortune cookies I've eaten over the years, I've
    saved (and taped to my monitor) only one fortune. It reads:

    Begin...the rest is easy.

    Regards,
    -=Dave
     
    Dave Hansen, Mar 16, 2007
    #6
  7. On Mar 16, 8:39 am, "Paul McGuire" <> wrote:
    >
    > Wow, are you still reading? Quit wasting time and go download a
    > Python dist and get started already!
    >


    I think you should extract that and spend twenty minutes tidying it up
    and then publish it to the Python for Programmers page or make it a
    downloadable .pdf.

    http://wiki.python.org/moin/BeginnersGuide/Programmers

    rd

    "The chief contribution of Protestantism to human thought is its
    massive proof that God is a bore."

    --H.L. Mencken
     
    BartlebyScrivener, Mar 16, 2007
    #7
  8. Gerald

    paul Guest

    Paul McGuire schrieb:
    > What does Python have that C++ doesn't?
    > - The biggie: dynamic typing (sometimes called "duck typing").
    > Dynamic typing is a huge simplifier for development:
    > . no variable declarations
    > . no method type signatures
    > . no interface definitions needed
    > . no templating for collections
    > . no method overloading by differing argument type signatures
    > ("Imagine there's no data types - I wonder if you can..."). What? No
    > static type-checking at compile time? Nope, not really. If your
    > method expects an object of type X, use it like an X. If it's not an
    > X, you may be surprised how often this is not a problem.

    But sometimes it is ;) Typical example: input and CGI/whatever. If one
    element is checked you'll get a string, if you select multiple (i.e.
    checkboxes) you'll get a list. Both support iteration

    Now if you iterate over the result:

    case 1, input -> "value1":
    for elem in input:
    #in real life we might validate here...
    print elem

    -> 'v' 'a' 'l' 'u' 'e' '1'

    case 2, input -> ["value1", "value2"]
    for elem in input:
    print elem

    -> "value1" "value2"

    cheers
    Paul

    Disclaimer: I like python and I write tests but i wish unittest had
    class/module level setUp()...
     
    paul, Mar 16, 2007
    #8
  9. Gerald wrote:
    > Hi ,Im a BSc4 Maths/Computer Science student.Unfortunately my
    > curriculum did not include Python programming yet I see many vacancies
    > for Python developers.I studied programming Pascal,C++ and Delphi.So I
    > need to catch up quickly and master Python programming.How do you
    > suggest that I achieve this goal?


    1. Chose a project for yourself
    2. Write it

    I needed a distributed white board application for working on a World
    Domination Plan with my friends, so I selected that as a good "get to
    learn Python" project.

    > Is python platform independent?


    Mostly..

    > What
    > is the best way?And how long would it take before I can develop
    > applications using python?


    Depends on your learning skills, and what kind of applications we're
    talking about.


    --
    Kind regards,
    Jan Danielsson
    ------------ And now a word from our sponsor ------------------
    Want to have instant messaging, and chat rooms, and discussion
    groups for your local users or business, you need dbabble!
    -- See http://netwinsite.com/sponsor/sponsor_dbabble.htm ----
     
    Jan Danielsson, Mar 16, 2007
    #9
  10. On 16 Mar 2007 04:41:38 -0700, "Gerald" <> declaimed
    the following in comp.lang.python:

    > Hi ,Im a BSc4 Maths/Computer Science student.Unfortunately my
    > curriculum did not include Python programming yet I see many vacancies
    > for Python developers.I studied programming Pascal,C++ and Delphi.So I


    <blink><blink>

    Pardon my surprise, but what school only covers simple Pascal,
    Object Pascal (in the guise of Delphi), and C++ without at least
    introducing other languages. Three fairly similar languages (with the
    same similar flaws -- like needing to remember to put begin/end ({})
    around multi-line blocks...

    25 years ago I had FORTRAN, COBOL, assembly (these 3 were mandatory
    in sequences of F, adv. F, assembly; C, adv. C, DBTG Database), Pascal,
    BASIC, APL (electives) -- and even did a report on Ada (which is fun,
    considering it was 8 months before Mil-Std 1815 was released <G>)

    Ada was part of a program language design course, each student had
    to do a report on some language -- so we had some quick summary of such
    things as SNOBOL, LISP, Algol, PL/1, etc.


    > need to catch up quickly and master Python programming.How do you


    Mastery and quickly are opposing terms <G> Took me 15 years on a job
    using FORTRAN 77 and I still wouldn't have called myself a master. (I'm
    more of a JoAT)

    > suggest that I achieve this goal?Is python platform independent?What
    > is the best way?And how long would it take before I can develop
    > applications using python?Can you recommend websites that feature a
    > gentle introduction to Python?


    If on a Windows box... I'd probably suggest grabbing the ActiveState
    installer; it gives a Python install, a simple IDE (PythonWin), the
    Win32 extensions, Python documentation as Windows CHM format -- and
    includes (well, it did in v2.4) the text of Dive Into Python.

    --
    Wulfraed Dennis Lee Bieber KD6MOG

    HTTP://wlfraed.home.netcom.com/
    (Bestiaria Support Staff: )
    HTTP://www.bestiaria.com/
     
    Dennis Lee Bieber, Mar 16, 2007
    #10
  11. Dennis Lee Bieber wrote:

    > On 16 Mar 2007 04:41:38 -0700, "Gerald" <> declaimed
    > the following in comp.lang.python:
    >
    >> Hi ,Im a BSc4 Maths/Computer Science student.Unfortunately my
    >> curriculum did not include Python programming yet I see many vacancies
    >> for Python developers.I studied programming Pascal,C++ and Delphi.So I

    >
    > <blink><blink>
    >
    > Pardon my surprise, but what school only covers simple Pascal,
    > Object Pascal (in the guise of Delphi), and C++ without at least
    > introducing other languages. Three fairly similar languages (with the
    > same similar flaws -- like needing to remember to put begin/end ({})
    > around multi-line blocks...


    Nowadays, you can get through CS graduate studies with only Java. Sad, but
    true.

    Diez
     
    Diez B. Roggisch, Mar 16, 2007
    #11
  12. Gerald

    cga2000 Guest

    On Fri, Mar 16, 2007 at 09:27:21AM EST, BartlebyScrivener wrote:
    > On Mar 16, 8:39 am, "Paul McGuire" <> wrote:
    > >
    > > Wow, are you still reading? Quit wasting time and go download a
    > > Python dist and get started already!
    > >

    >
    > I think you should extract that and spend twenty minutes tidying it up
    > and then publish it to the Python for Programmers page or make it a
    > downloadable .pdf.


    Not sure where it should go.

    Perhaps add a little nook and cranny link named "facts & advocacy".

    I'm only an occasional user of Python and admittedly not as well-read as
    many on this list .. but I must say that this is the first time I run
    into something that so clearly states what makes Python stand apart from
    those other .. er .. "difficult" .. should I say .. languages.

    Make it a wiki so everyone can add his two cents?

    Start a DocBook, LaTex, CSS.. competition and turn it into some kind of
    marketing tool with all the trimmings?

    In any event it would be a shame to waste it.

    Thanks,
    cga
     
    cga2000, Mar 17, 2007
    #12
  13. Dennis Lee Bieber <> wrote:

    > > need to catch up quickly and master Python programming.How do you

    >
    > Mastery and quickly are opposing terms <G> Took me 15 years on a job
    > using FORTRAN 77 and I still wouldn't have called myself a master. (I'm
    > more of a JoAT)


    My favorite "Stars!" PRT, mind you -- but when some language interests
    me enough, I do tend to "master" it... guess it's correlated with what
    Brooks saw as the ideal "language lawyer" in his "surgical team"
    approach, an intrinsic fascination with bunches of interconnected rules.


    Alex
     
    Alex Martelli, Mar 17, 2007
    #13
  14. Gerald

    John Nagle Guest

    Alex Martelli wrote:
    > Dennis Lee Bieber <> wrote:
    >
    >
    >>>need to catch up quickly and master Python programming.How do you

    >>
    >>Mastery and quickly are opposing terms <G> Took me 15 years on a job
    >>using FORTRAN 77 and I still wouldn't have called myself a master. (I'm
    >>more of a JoAT)

    >
    >
    > My favorite "Stars!" PRT, mind you -- but when some language interests
    > me enough, I do tend to "master" it... guess it's correlated with what
    > Brooks saw as the ideal "language lawyer" in his "surgical team"
    > approach, an intrinsic fascination with bunches of interconnected rules.


    Python just isn't that complicated. The syntax is straightforward,
    and the semantics are similar to most other dynamic object-oriented languages.
    If you know Perl or Smalltalk or LISP or JavaScript, Python does about
    what you'd expect.

    Execution model: dynamic stack-type interpreter.
    Memory model: reference counting with backup garbage collector.
    Syntax: roughly C-like, with indentation for structure.
    Typing model: dynamic only
    Object model: class definitions with multiple inheritance.
    Object structure: dictionary hash.
    Exception model: explicit throw/try/catch
    Theading model: multiprogramming in interpreter.
    Safe memory model: Yes.
    Closures: Yes.
    Design by contract: No.

    That's Python.

    Biggest headache is finding out what doesn't work in the libraries.

    John Nagle
     
    John Nagle, Mar 17, 2007
    #14
  15. Gerald

    Paul Rubin Guest

    John Nagle <> writes:
    > Execution model: dynamic stack-type interpreter.


    Erm, the iterator protocol makes the above a little more complicated.

    > Biggest headache is finding out what doesn't work in the libraries.


    Good observation.
     
    Paul Rubin, Mar 17, 2007
    #15
  16. John Nagle <> wrote:
    ...
    > >>Mastery and quickly are opposing terms <G> Took me 15 years on a job
    > >>using FORTRAN 77 and I still wouldn't have called myself a master. (I'm

    ...
    > Python just isn't that complicated. The syntax is straightforward,


    Neither is/was Fortran 77, net perhaps of a few syntax quirks that were
    easily avoided; yet few practitioners took the trouble (for example) of
    learning what manners of data aliasing (e.g. between routine parameters
    and/or data in COMMON blocks) were legal and which were not -- such a
    simple rule (if you write data through an alias and read or write the
    same memory through a different alias, you're breaking the rules of the
    language and the compiler's free to make dragons fly out of your nose),
    yet I've lost count of the number of times I've seen it broken during my
    Fortran days (broken by professional programmers who used Fortran to
    make a living and yet didn't care enough to know better, mind you -- I'm
    not talking about accidental mistakes, which of course can easily happen
    for a rule that the compiler need not enforce, but total ignorance of
    this simple rule).


    Alex
     
    Alex Martelli, Mar 17, 2007
    #16
  17. Gerald

    Aahz Guest

    In article <yxMKh.8126$>,
    John Nagle <> wrote:
    >Alex Martelli wrote:
    >> Dennis Lee Bieber <> wrote:
    >>>
    >>>Mastery and quickly are opposing terms <G> Took me 15 years on a job
    >>>using FORTRAN 77 and I still wouldn't have called myself a master. (I'm
    >>>more of a JoAT)

    >>
    >> My favorite "Stars!" PRT, mind you -- but when some language interests
    >> me enough, I do tend to "master" it... guess it's correlated with what
    >> Brooks saw as the ideal "language lawyer" in his "surgical team"
    >> approach, an intrinsic fascination with bunches of interconnected rules.

    >
    > Python just isn't that complicated. The syntax is straightforward,
    >and the semantics are similar to most other dynamic object-oriented
    >languages. If you know Perl or Smalltalk or LISP or JavaScript, Python
    >does about what you'd expect.


    Yes and no. At the time I learned Python, I was a Perl expert (but not
    a master), and I had a bunch of other languages under my belt (including
    Fortran, Pascal, C, Ada). Nevertheless, for the first month of Python,
    I found that I kept having problems because I tried to make Python fit
    the mold of other languages rather than accepting it on its own terms.

    (Admittedly, part of my problem was that I was learning Python under
    duress -- I saw no reason to learn Yet Another Scripting Language.)

    Then there are all the little odd corners of Python that stand in the
    way of true mastery, like what happens with refcounts and exception
    tracebacks.
    --
    Aahz () <*> http://www.pythoncraft.com/

    "Typing is cheap. Thinking is expensive." --Roy Smith
     
    Aahz, Mar 18, 2007
    #17
  18. Gerald

    Paul McGuire Guest

    On Mar 16, 9:27 am, "BartlebyScrivener" <> wrote:
    > On Mar 16, 8:39 am, "Paul McGuire" <> wrote:
    >
    >
    >
    > > Wow, are you still reading? Quit wasting time and go download a
    > > Python dist and get started already!

    >
    > I think you should extract that and spend twenty minutes tidying it up
    > and then publish it to the Python for Programmers page or make it a
    > downloadable .pdf.
    >
    > http://wiki.python.org/moin/BeginnersGuide/Programmers
    >
    > rd
    >
    > "The chief contribution of Protestantism to human thought is its
    > massive proof that God is a bore."
    >
    > --H.L. Mencken


    I've added it to this page, see the last entry. Hope some find it
    entertaining, if not informative.

    -- Paul
     
    Paul McGuire, Mar 19, 2007
    #18
  19. Gerald

    Ben Finney Guest

    "Paul McGuire" <> writes:

    > On Mar 16, 9:27 am, "BartlebyScrivener" <> wrote:
    > > I think you should extract that and spend twenty minutes tidying
    > > it up and then publish it to the Python for Programmers page or
    > > make it a downloadable .pdf.
    > >
    > > http://wiki.python.org/moin/BeginnersGuide/Programmers

    >
    > I've added it to [the above wiki page], see the last entry.


    I missed this the first time around. Thanks for letting us know you'd
    done this.

    > Hope some find it entertaining, if not informative.


    It looks like a great get-started guide for the many C++ refugees I
    hope we can gain :)

    --
    \ "Why, I'd horse-whip you if I had a horse." -- Groucho Marx |
    `\ |
    _o__) |
    Ben Finney
     
    Ben Finney, Mar 19, 2007
    #19
  20. Paul McGuire a écrit :
    (snip)
    > - Don't forget the ()'s. To invoke a method on an object, you must
    > include the parens. This wont do anything:
    > a = "some string"
    > a = a.lower


    It will actually do something: rebind name 'a' to the method lower() of
    the string previously binded to 'a'

    (snip)
     
    Bruno Desthuilliers, Mar 21, 2007
    #20
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