Python taught in schools?

Discussion in 'Python' started by MilkmanDan, Jun 25, 2006.

  1. MilkmanDan

    MilkmanDan Guest

    I'll be a college freshman this fall, attending Florida Institute of
    Tech studying electrical engineering.

    I was considering taking some classes in programming and computer
    science, and I happened to notice that everything taught is using C++.
    After further research, it seems to me that C++ seems to be the
    dominating language in universities.

    By comparison, our local community college teaches a few classes in VB,
    Java, Javascript, C++, and for some reason, PASCAL.

    I'm certianly not against any of this, but out of curiousity does
    anyone know of a school that teaches Python?
     
    MilkmanDan, Jun 25, 2006
    #1
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  2. In article <>,
    MilkmanDan <> wrote:
    >I'll be a college freshman this fall, attending Florida Institute of
    >Tech studying electrical engineering.
    >
    >I was considering taking some classes in programming and computer
    >science, and I happened to notice that everything taught is using C++.
    >After further research, it seems to me that C++ seems to be the
    >dominating language in universities.
    >
    >By comparison, our local community college teaches a few classes in VB,
    >Java, Javascript, C++, and for some reason, PASCAL.
    >
    >I'm certianly not against any of this, but out of curiousity does
    >anyone know of a school that teaches Python?
    >


    There are many. Wartburg College <URL:
    http://mcsp.wartburg.edu/zelle/python/ > is an example. <URL:
    http://www.python.org/community/sigs/current/edu-sig/ > likely
    will interest you.

    I'll gratuitously add that, even though I'm personally fond of
    C++, I think teaching it as is done in colleges and high schools
    (!) amounts to child abuse. It's wildly inappropriate.
     
    Cameron Laird, Jun 25, 2006
    #2
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  3. dan>> but out of curiousity does
    dan>> anyone know of a school that teaches Python?

    http://www.python.org/about/quotes/

    University of Maryland

    "I have the students learn Python in our undergraduate and graduate
    Semantic Web courses. Why? Because basically there's nothing else with
    the flexibility and as many web libraries," said Prof. James A.
    Hendler.

    rd
     
    BartlebyScrivener, Jun 25, 2006
    #3
  4. MilkmanDan

    Mirco Wahab Guest

    Thus spoke Cameron Laird (on 2006-06-25 13:08):

    > I'll gratuitously add that, even though I'm personally fond of
    > C++, I think teaching it as is done in colleges and high schools
    > (!) amounts to child abuse. It's wildly inappropriate.


    C++ programming requires you to
    massively invest your thinking
    first into the setup of your
    build environment (can only be
    beaten by Java here).

    This is where the real abuse
    starts. Plain C++-baby-style
    (with some structs and cin/cout)
    is just fun, despite the required
    'variable prototyping' (which is
    not that bad for a beginner).

    Regards

    Mirco
     
    Mirco Wahab, Jun 25, 2006
    #4
  5. MilkmanDan

    faulkner Guest

    Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
    I TAed a python class last semester, and am using it to build a webapp
    for the Arts and Humanities dept.
    http://www.olin.edu

    MilkmanDan wrote:
    > I'll be a college freshman this fall, attending Florida Institute of
    > Tech studying electrical engineering.
    >
    > I was considering taking some classes in programming and computer
    > science, and I happened to notice that everything taught is using C++.
    > After further research, it seems to me that C++ seems to be the
    > dominating language in universities.
    >
    > By comparison, our local community college teaches a few classes in VB,
    > Java, Javascript, C++, and for some reason, PASCAL.
    >
    > I'm certianly not against any of this, but out of curiousity does
    > anyone know of a school that teaches Python?
     
    faulkner, Jun 25, 2006
    #5
  6. MilkmanDan <> wrote:

    > I'll be a college freshman this fall, attending Florida Institute of
    > Tech studying electrical engineering.
    >
    > I was considering taking some classes in programming and computer
    > science, and I happened to notice that everything taught is using C++.
    > After further research, it seems to me that C++ seems to be the
    > dominating language in universities.


    Must be a weird local phenomenon -- my impression (based on
    non-scientific but widespread observations) is that _Java_ has come to
    dominate the programming-language scene in universities.

    One such observation struck me intensely last year, for example, as Tim
    O'Reilly was showing (at Euro OSCON 2005) his rich graphical environment
    for looking at book sales (by category, time, etc etc): Java book sales
    display an obvious, strong "cyclic" seasonality with a yearly cycle, in
    a perfect correlation with the times at which students would be likely
    to buy books. No other language whose book-sales data Tim displayed had
    anything like that obvious an effect (C, C++, Basic, Perl, Python, Ruby,
    ....); funny enough, Tim himself, while obviously "seeing" the
    seasonality (the UK-sales diagram in particular looked almost like a
    sine wave!-), hadn't thought of the "student purchases" explanation.

    For some reason, the effect, while obvious already in US data, was even
    more pronounced in UK data; perhaps UK universities have less flexible
    timing &c for courses (I don't know much about UK universities -- I do
    know, however, that in Italy for example summer courses for undergrads
    are rare to non-existent, while I see there's quite an offer of those in
    the US).

    Many others have remarked on Java's ascendancy as a language in
    universities in many different contexts. Joel Spolski, for example, has
    bemoaned that ascendancy's effect on how well he can evaluate a new grad
    in a hiring interview: when undegrads typically learned C or Lisp, he
    says, he had sure-fire ways to probe if a candidate "has what it takes"
    to be a top programmer, by asking hard questions respectively on
    pointers and on recursion; with "everybody" learning Java, he's lost
    that chance, because a candidate may never have seen pointers and be
    quite unfamiliar with recursion (supported in Java, of course, but
    hardly the staple it is in Lisp!-), so poor performance on such
    questions does not really indicate much:).

    Paul Graham, a paladin of Lisp, created quite a stir by stating that
    you're likely to get better programmers if you look for ones experienced
    in Python rather than ones experienced in Java; in the midst of the
    resulting flamefest, he clarified that the issue is not so much about
    the specific nature of the languages (although, like many Lisp'ers, he
    finds Python a lesser evil than Java, technically) -- rather, he says
    that a programmer who's only experienced in Java may have merely
    "fallen" into it because that's what universities teach and he or she
    had no motivation to "look elsewhere" and thus probably no deep passion
    for programming, while somebody experienced in Python (which is not as
    widely taught) must have taked that path by choice, evidencing a real
    passion for programming (by looking around and choosing reasonably well
    -- of course, for Graham, only Lisp would be the "perfect" choice;-).

    A similar line of reasoning has been used to explain the empirical
    findings of Software Development magazine's yearly survey on
    programmers' salaries, which, for years, has shown Python programmers at
    the top of the heap and Visual Basic programmers at the bottom (I do not
    recall where Java programmers place, but I think it's closer to the
    bottom than to the top): VB programmers, goes the reasoning, are closer
    to have "stumbled" into it and to have no real experience of other
    languages, while Python programmers typically have strong experience in
    more languages and use Python _by choice_ -- so, again (the reasoning
    goes), it's not so much about the languages "per se", but the sociology
    and psychology around them. ((in terms of the emerging economics
    discipline of "asymmetric information markets", this would make Python
    expertise a "signal" of a strong programmer in a way that VB or to a
    lesser extent Java would not)).


    > By comparison, our local community college teaches a few classes in VB,
    > Java, Javascript, C++, and for some reason, PASCAL.


    Interestingly, Mission College (Santa Clara, CA) offers C (I know
    because my wife's been studying there to accumulate some credits while
    Stanford considered her application -- it's now been accepted, so she'll
    be starting Symbolic Systems there in the fall); Bologna University (I
    know the details because of the recent study there of my son [Financial
    Economics], daughter [Telecom Engineering] and daughter's boyfriend
    [started with Civil Engineering, switched to Political Science] offers:
    a first course in C, and a second one in Java, for Telecom; Fortran, for
    Civil engineers (all of these are mandatory for these majors); no
    mandatory programming for either economics or political scientists, but
    the suggested optional courses are respectively focused on Advanced
    Excel (with some VBA for advanced macros) and SPSS (a well-known package
    for statistics, rather than a "real" programming language).

    > I'm certianly not against any of this, but out of curiousity does
    > anyone know of a school that teaches Python?


    A brief Google search (discarding the flurry of news about Burmese
    pythons in the Everglades...;-) shows for example that the UWF (for a
    GIS certificate) requires among others a "UWF Programming Course
    (Java/SQL/Python/etc.)" for 3 semester hours; UMD's page on professor
    Einstein's course "Introduction to programming in the physical
    sciences", entirely focusing on Python, has among the recommended
    "references" an entry for "Advanced topics from U. Central Florida
    python class" (which is unfortunately a dead link); the Course Syllabus
    page for the graduate course "Simulation Analysis of Forest Ecosystems"
    at ufl.edu includes three Python programming books (and none on other
    languages); "University of Florida" is also listed at
    <http://wiki.python.org/moin/SchoolsUsingPython> but with no usable link
    or details. So, yes, Python _is_ used in some Florida universities, but
    it sure looks like it just occupies some minor niches.

    To get some indication of the popularity of languages in universities,
    let's try some google searches and see the number of million hits...:

    python programming 66.9 M
    java programming 219 M
    c++ programming 98.9 M

    and

    python university 11.9 M
    java university 110 M
    c++ university 26 M

    so, besides the general indication of relative popularity of the three
    languages, we can't fail to notice: *OVER HALF* of the java hits also
    mention university, as compared to *JUST ABOVE 1/4* for C++ and *JUST
    ABOVE 1/5* for Python -- a rough but interesting confirmation that Java
    dominates University uses far more than other fields...


    Alex
     
    Alex Martelli, Jun 25, 2006
    #6
  7. MilkmanDan

    David Reed Guest

    >
    > MilkmanDan wrote:
    >> I'll be a college freshman this fall, attending Florida Institute of
    >> Tech studying electrical engineering.
    >>
    >> I was considering taking some classes in programming and computer
    >> science, and I happened to notice that everything taught is using C
    >> ++.
    >> After further research, it seems to me that C++ seems to be the
    >> dominating language in universities.



    Actually, I think Java is the most commonly used language in the CS1,
    although C++ may be more popular at engineering institutions.

    >>
    >> By comparison, our local community college teaches a few classes
    >> in VB,
    >> Java, Javascript, C++, and for some reason, PASCAL.
    >>
    >> I'm certianly not against any of this, but out of curiousity does
    >> anyone know of a school that teaches Python?




    See the following for a list compiled from responses on the python-
    edu list.

    http://studypack.com/comp/mod/glossary/view.php?id=2835

    Dave
     
    David Reed, Jun 25, 2006
    #7
  8. MilkmanDan

    Guest

    I think there is a Python club at UCF, Orlando....might help you
    indirectly.

    MilkmanDan wrote:
    > I'll be a college freshman this fall, attending Florida Institute of
    > Tech studying electrical engineering.
    >
    > I was considering taking some classes in programming and computer
    > science, and I happened to notice that everything taught is using C++.
    > After further research, it seems to me that C++ seems to be the
    > dominating language in universities.
    >
    > By comparison, our local community college teaches a few classes in VB,
    > Java, Javascript, C++, and for some reason, PASCAL.
    >
    > I'm certianly not against any of this, but out of curiousity does
    > anyone know of a school that teaches Python?
     
    , Jun 25, 2006
    #8
  9. MilkmanDan

    Guest

    I replied to a wrong post. My bad.....I know for sure that there is
    some kinda Python Club at UCF Orlando. There is Prof called Michael
    Johnson who teaches Physics gives you an intro to Python.

    http://www.physics.ucf.edu/~mdj/MinimalPython.html

    Good Luck
     
    , Jun 25, 2006
    #9
  10. MilkmanDan

    Robert Hicks Guest

    BartlebyScrivener wrote:
    > dan>> but out of curiousity does
    > dan>> anyone know of a school that teaches Python?
    >
    > http://www.python.org/about/quotes/
    >
    > University of Maryland
    >
    > "I have the students learn Python in our undergraduate and graduate
    > Semantic Web courses. Why? Because basically there's nothing else with
    > the flexibility and as many web libraries," said Prof. James A.
    > Hendler.
    >
    > rd


    Well that Professor has shown his ignorance to the world but not for
    choosing Python. : )

    Robert
     
    Robert Hicks, Jun 25, 2006
    #10
  11. In article <1hhhbmb.qcvbcn14uox59N%>,
    (Alex Martelli) wrote:

    >... let's try some google searches and see the number of million hits...:


    But how reliable are those estimates of numbers of hits, anyway? More
    than once I've got a page showing something like "Results 1 - 10 of
    about 36 hits", only to find that there were no more pages after the
    second one. If it could get estimates so wrong with such small numbers,
    how can you trust the large ones?
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 26, 2006
    #11
  12. In article <e7lv4a$h6k$-halle.de>,
    Mirco Wahab <-halle.de> wrote:

    >C++ programming requires you to massively invest your thinking
    >first into the setup of your build environment ...


    I don't understand why. It's easy enough to build small programs with a
    single g++ command.
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 26, 2006
    #12
  13. MilkmanDan

    Duncan Booth Guest

    Lawrence D'Oliveiro wrote:

    > In article <1hhhbmb.qcvbcn14uox59N%>,
    > (Alex Martelli) wrote:
    >
    >>... let's try some google searches and see the number of million
    >>hits...:

    >
    > But how reliable are those estimates of numbers of hits, anyway? More
    > than once I've got a page showing something like "Results 1 - 10 of
    > about 36 hits", only to find that there were no more pages after the
    > second one. If it could get estimates so wrong with such small
    > numbers, how can you trust the large ones?


    If you read what it says at the bottom of the last page of results (this
    example from a claimed 90 hits, but only 27 visible):

    > In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some
    > entries very similar to the 27 already displayed. If you like, you can
    > repeat the search with the omitted results included.


    Google's hit count includes all the pages which by default it filters out.
    In particular it only returns you two pages from each site in the initial
    results (grouped together and with the second one indented). If you repeat
    the search with filtering turned off then you should find that a small
    count of hits is pretty accurate).
     
    Duncan Booth, Jun 26, 2006
    #13
  14. MilkmanDan

    Mirco Wahab Guest

    Thus spoke Lawrence D'Oliveiro (on 2006-06-26 09:21):

    > In article <e7lv4a$h6k$-halle.de>,
    > Mirco Wahab <-halle.de> wrote:
    >
    >>C++ programming requires you to massively invest your thinking
    >>first into the setup of your build environment ...

    >
    > I don't understand why. It's easy enough to build small programs with a
    > single g++ command.



    Think about beeing a young guy with a
    windows pc at home.

    To make sense of your 45 min C++
    class, you need to practice the
    stuff at home for sure, I'd guess.

    Now go ahead! What would you do?

    Download "The C++" from the Internet,
    click on setup and start? Right ;-)

    Regards

    Mirco
     
    Mirco Wahab, Jun 26, 2006
    #14
  15. Lawrence D'Oliveiro <_zealand> wrote:

    > In article <1hhhbmb.qcvbcn14uox59N%>,
    > (Alex Martelli) wrote:
    >
    > >... let's try some google searches and see the number of million hits...:

    >
    > But how reliable are those estimates of numbers of hits, anyway? More
    > than once I've got a page showing something like "Results 1 - 10 of
    > about 36 hits", only to find that there were no more pages after the
    > second one. If it could get estimates so wrong with such small numbers,
    > how can you trust the large ones?


    If your experience in the matter dates from a few months ago (and most
    of us may have done Google searches for years, contributing to form our
    impressions) it may perhaps not be all that applicable any more,
    according to rumors from early this year (e.g.
    <http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,1916406,00.asp>) and blogging
    notes by Matt Cutts at <http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/bigdaddy/> .

    If you can give examples of a query which estimates the (small) number
    of results very badly, net of course of Duncan Booth's observation
    regarding Google's attempts to filter out near-duplicates, I'll be glad
    to look further into the matter (my group is Production Systems, just
    about as far from such issues as you can imagine -- rather, we write
    software to keep our clusters, networks &c smoothly running, monitor
    them, and so forth -- but, of course, I do have friends over in Search
    Quality and related groups... fortunately, Google has so far managed to
    avoid much of the "silos syndrome"... so I'll be glad to check it out,
    but I do need specific examples!-).


    Alex
     
    Alex Martelli, Jun 26, 2006
    #15
  16. MilkmanDan

    Gary Duzan Guest

    In article <e7lv4a$h6k$-halle.de>,
    Mirco Wahab <> wrote:
    >Thus spoke Cameron Laird (on 2006-06-25 13:08):
    >
    >> I'll gratuitously add that, even though I'm personally fond of
    >> C++, I think teaching it as is done in colleges and high schools
    >> (!) amounts to child abuse. It's wildly inappropriate.

    >
    >C++ programming requires you to
    >massively invest your thinking
    >first into the setup of your
    >build environment (can only be
    >beaten by Java here).


    A while back I had the opportunity to teach a section of an
    introductory computer science course in C++. They had recently
    abandoned Pascal in favor of C++ as the language of choice. There
    was certainly some spinup on the development environment to do,
    but it wasn't too terrible.

    I think the real problem with C++ is that there is a lot of
    conceptual baggage to work around to get to a useful program without
    having the students "unlearn" things later. Just basic things like
    const (in its various forms), pointers vs. references, class basics,
    headers, etc., are necessary for idiomatic C++ programming, but
    they get in the way of teaching more basic concepts of program
    construction.

    I understand that the school switched to Java a short time later,
    which is some improvement, but still has a good bit of baggage.
    Now the Schemers have taken over, so they teach Scheme as the
    introductory language. One thing about Scheme is that it doen't
    have a lot of baggage; there is no room for it in the spec. :)

    To return to topicality for a moment, I think exposing new
    students to a combination of Scheme and Python might work well,
    providing different views of how to build programs, and leaving
    the students with both theoretical and practical foundations on
    which to build.

    Gary Duzan
    Motorola CHS



    p.s. Then sock them with ML or Haskell to weed out the weak ones. ;-)
    Then if they survive Occam, throw Java at them, so they'll
    know what they are missing but can still get a job...
     
    Gary Duzan, Jun 26, 2006
    #16
  17. In article <e7oapr$9ja$-halle.de>,
    Mirco Wahab <> wrote:

    >Thus spoke Lawrence D'Oliveiro (on 2006-06-26 09:21):
    >
    >> In article <e7lv4a$h6k$-halle.de>,
    >> Mirco Wahab <-halle.de> wrote:
    >>
    >>>C++ programming requires you to massively invest your thinking
    >>>first into the setup of your build environment ...

    >>
    >> I don't understand why. It's easy enough to build small programs with a
    >> single g++ command.

    >
    >Think about beeing a young guy with a
    >windows pc at home.
    >
    >To make sense of your 45 min C++
    >class, you need to practice the
    >stuff at home for sure, I'd guess.
    >
    >Now go ahead! What would you do?


    Download a Linux distro with a complete GCC, Emacs, GDB etc. Then go
    wild.
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 27, 2006
    #17
  18. In article <e7oulq$iap$>,
    (Gary Duzan) wrote:

    > I understand that the school switched [from C++] to Java a short
    > time later, which is some improvement, but still has a good bit of
    > baggage.


    Java started out trying to avoid most of the complexities of C++, but
    ended up having to reintroduce many of them anyway.

    >p.s. Then sock them with ML or Haskell to weed out the weak ones. ;-)
    > Then if they survive Occam, throw Java at them, so they'll
    > know what they are missing but can still get a job...


    And yet, because they didn't start with Java, they'll still have the
    ability to think. Which is bound to annoy PHBs out in the "real" world
    ....
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 27, 2006
    #18
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