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How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Learning With Python [Paperback]

Allen B. Downey , Jeffrey Elkner , Chris Meyers
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 2002
"How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Learning with Python" is an introduction to computer science using the Python programming language. It covers the basics of computer programming, including variables and values, functions, conditionals and control flow, program development and debugging. Later chapters cover basic algorithms and data structures.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful work July 7 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful work worthy of every praise. Excellently written to make everyone understand. I am very happy with it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great text for learning Python Dec 20 2003
Format:Paperback
I don't actually own a hard copy of this book, but I read it in its entirety online, and I must say, it was all I needed to learn Python. I began programming 8 years ago in AppleSoft BASIC, and I've now been using C++ for 5 years. Prior to seeing this book, I'd looked into Python a few times, but never really got engaged enough to learn it. A few days ago, when I found a copy of the book on iBiblio, I read through it in two days flat, and now I have a really good feel for the language. The authors cover all the vital topics in a concise, consistent, and reader-friendly manner. I must say that I'm not a programming neophyte, so I don't have an objective feel for whether or not this book can teach you from scratch how to think like a computer scientist, but it certainly helped me once and for all to learn Python, and I'd recommend it to anyone without hesitation.
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for beginners! Nov. 9 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
"How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Learning with Python" is one of the best computer programming books out there that beginners can start with! I have been enjoying this book for the past two months and I HIGHLY recommend it for the following reasons:
1) This book is designed with beginners (like you) in mind. In other words, you will not have to hire a tutor to be able to understand this book! It is very easy and clear to understand -- unlike many of the previous programming books that I have come across in the past.
2) It teaches you the necessary programming fundamentals that other programming languages require you to know. Once you have learned how to work with python, you will probably find it pretty easy (as I did) to acquire additional programming languages, such as Microsoft Visual Basic, C++ and Java.
3) This book provides the beginner with many easy-to-understand examples, in which the reader can try out. This makes the learning experience more interactive and enjoyable.
4) Python is a very easy language for beginners to work with. It is very easy to comprehend and tends to be on the "forgiving" side, especially if one makes a mistake while trying to learn to program.
5) Python is a free programming language that works with my different type of computer systems. It works beautifully with Microsoft Windows, Macintosh, Unix, Linux, Solaris, and other operating systems. With the language being free, you do not have to pay additional money to obtain the software.
I absolutely love this book and I hope that you will find it to be a fun and rewarding experience too. Give it a try -- it will open up a new world of programming to you!
Was this review helpful to you?
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the money! March 17 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I was unimpressed and learned nothing. It might be worth mentioning that this is self-published by the authors. I wish I had known that--my opinion is that an established publisher would have a hard time marketing it. Just very muddled and not helpful at all.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great text for learning Python Dec 20 2003
By Warren C. Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I don't actually own a hard copy of this book, but I read it in its entirety online, and I must say, it was all I needed to learn Python. I began programming 8 years ago in AppleSoft BASIC, and I've now been using C++ for 5 years. Prior to seeing this book, I'd looked into Python a few times, but never really got engaged enough to learn it. A few days ago, when I found a copy of the book on iBiblio, I read through it in two days flat, and now I have a really good feel for the language. The authors cover all the vital topics in a concise, consistent, and reader-friendly manner. I must say that I'm not a programming neophyte, so I don't have an objective feel for whether or not this book can teach you from scratch how to think like a computer scientist, but it certainly helped me once and for all to learn Python, and I'd recommend it to anyone without hesitation.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Sept. 6 2005
By Nick A. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I just got the online copy of this (available free under the GNU documentation license). I had some classes in the past, programming classes, all pertained to java and i did not learn much of anything about it. It was just "type this and blarg (As someone in a previous review said" This book is amazing, it has an elegant and significant way of blending words to the point where its fun to learn programming. Stick with the book and you'll not only learn the basics of Python, but you'll learn all the logic and other implementations of computer programming as you go along! Very good read and i plan on purchasing a hardbound copy just as a keepsake becuase i enjoy this book so much.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not Best June 5 2007
By Elderbear - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
AUDIENCE: Beginning programmers. A reasonably good first text. Teaches and touches on numerous computer science ideas. Great for a high school or college level intro to programming class.

FLAWS: Not up-to-date with language features, computer science constructs seem to be somewhat randomly presented (perhaps this is the "muddle") another reviewer complains about, OOP is introduced far to late (in my humble opinion).

ULTIMATELY: Glad I bought it, would buy 2nd edition, have used it as a textbook for university classes.

This is a good guide to programming for the non-programmer. It develops basic procedural and structured software development ideas. It introduces OOP - object oriented programming - with some interesting examples. It concludes with four chapters on data structures.

This is not a systematic survey of the Python language, a book of slick examples for sophisticated programming (Programming Python, Dive Into Python, Text Processing in Python and Python Cookbook are excellent examples of wonderful Python riffs that exemplify state of the art application of Python to real-world problems. All of these assume some programming sophistication, however). This is a nuts and bolts, hand-holding exploration of some basic ideas of computer science using Python. It does this quite well.

Shortcomings include being somewhat dated. It does not cover some of the newer features in Python, such as list comprehensions or new-style classes. An additional shortcoming is that it reads too much like a traditional computer science text, and relies too much on procedural programming.

I suppose it's time for me to quit griping. I've taught many people to program using this book. It taught me the basics of Python so that I could appreciate Mark Pilgrim's Dive Into Python, which really gave me a feel for the power of the language (granted, I had been developing software professionally for over 15 years at that point).

It is not a reference manual. A second edition needs to be written. I believe that OOP should be introduced much earlier, and can then become a much more natural approach to programming.

If you want a reference manual for Python, or something more advanced than a beginner's text, or something describing up-to-date language features, then keep on searching. Or, download a copy of this and try it out. See if it serves your needs. A link to the free download can be found at the Python ORGanization site.

But unlike the free download, you can set this on your desk next to your keyboard. After the first several chapters in the soft version, I ordered the hardcopy. I have not regretted that decision.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb job using interactive mode. Dec 11 2007
By Mfragin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is great at teaching all the basics of programming in a very short time. If you use Python's interactive mode you don't even have to write many programs using this book, as much of the book can just be done via exploration at the interactive prompt.

I recommend this book for several types of users. It does make a great first introduction to programming, even covering OOP concepts. It also is a great introduction to the Python language for those with a little programming experience in another language.

You won't find much about all the modules available to Python, but that is not the intent of this book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for beginners! Nov. 9 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Learning with Python" is one of the best computer programming books out there that beginners can start with! I have been enjoying this book for the past two months and I HIGHLY recommend it for the following reasons:
1) This book is designed with beginners (like you) in mind. In other words, you will not have to hire a tutor to be able to understand this book! It is very easy and clear to understand -- unlike many of the previous programming books that I have come across in the past.
2) It teaches you the necessary programming fundamentals that other programming languages require you to know. Once you have learned how to work with python, you will probably find it pretty easy (as I did) to acquire additional programming languages, such as Microsoft Visual Basic, C++ and Java.
3) This book provides the beginner with many easy-to-understand examples, in which the reader can try out. This makes the learning experience more interactive and enjoyable.
4) Python is a very easy language for beginners to work with. It is very easy to comprehend and tends to be on the "forgiving" side, especially if one makes a mistake while trying to learn to program.
5) Python is a free programming language that works with my different type of computer systems. It works beautifully with Microsoft Windows, Macintosh, Unix, Linux, Solaris, and other operating systems. With the language being free, you do not have to pay additional money to obtain the software.
I absolutely love this book and I hope that you will find it to be a fun and rewarding experience too. Give it a try -- it will open up a new world of programming to you!
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