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Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science, 2nd Ed. [Student Edition] [Paperback]

John Zelle
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

May 7 2010 1590282418 978-1590282410 2
This is the second edition of John Zelle's Python Programming, updated for Python 3. This book is designed to be used as the primary textbook in a college-level first course in computing. It takes a fairly traditional approach, emphasizing problem solving, design, and programming as the core skills of computer science. However, these ideas are illustrated using a non-traditional language, namely Python.

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About the Author

There seemed to be no use in waiting by the little door, so she went back to the table, half hoping she might find another key on it, or at any rate a book of rules for shutting people up like telescopes: this time she found a little bottle on it, ('which certainly was not here before,' said Alice,) and round the neck of the bottle was a paper label, with the words 'DRINK ME' beautifully printed on it in large letters.

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great as an absolute beginners book. Aug. 11 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you don't know anything about programming, this book is great. Personally, I already had a decent grasp on C and so this book just gave me a simple translation for most commands. It took up until the pi specific information near the end of the book to feel like I was really learning something. Also, a couple of the examples, including the hangman example in the first couple of , don't actually function as written, even if copied directly off of the website provided in the book. That is disappointing for someone who has no idea what might be wrong.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  75 reviews
49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Beginner's Book Feb. 24 2011
By AS - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was new to Python and fairly new to programming when I read this book. This book is extremely clear and well-written. It introduces a novice to the foundational concepts of computer science. There are many great examples and activities that the reader can jump into almost immediately. I had already written my first Python program after 10 minutes of reading.

I highly recommend this book for beginners.
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for beginners Oct. 9 2011
By Patrick Donovan - Published on Amazon.com
I purchased this book a couple months ago and have been thoroughly impressed.

I have never learned a programming language before, but I am fairly knowledgeable about technology in general. I decided to take the plunge, and figured the best place to start would be learning the basics of computer science.

This book is fantastic for a number of reasons. The first reason is the choice of language. When I first developed an interest in programming, one of the things I struggled with was what language to learn. As someone who has a full time job and no easy access to developers, I wanted to make sure it was something that I could realistically learn on my own. Python is the perfect choice and I would recommend it to any beginner. The syntax is very simple, its high level and object oriented, and its very popular right now.

This book is also incredibly readable. Many other resources that I've looked at that are aimed at beginners overlook some basic concepts that need to be explained. The author's often have too much expertise, and something that seems obvious and self evident to them may not be as obvious to a complete beginner. This book doesn't make that mistake. Each concept is explained simply, but omitting no detail, and the syntax is explained thoroughly (which doesn't take much with Python).

After a few weeks of working with this book, I was writing simple programs to transform data arrays and produce CSV output files for my job. The fact that you can very quickly deploy what you've learned in a useful way really gets you excited and interested in learning more.

Anyone interested in learning Python, or programming in general, should start with this book. Its just excellent.
45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and deep introduction to programming for the very first beginner Aug. 4 2010
By ws__ - Published on Amazon.com
Zelle's "Python Programming" takes you smoothly and slowly through the art of programming and you also learn a little computer science. He uses a modern object oriented script language (Python) for this purpose: a surprisingly good choice for a first language. Python is clear and powerful and does not require you to learn bad habits too early.

If you are more advanced and just wanted to learn Python you will probably find the pace of Zelle way too slow. If you are the brilliant type you might want to read Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs - 2nd Edition (MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science). For all others I can fully recommend this Zelle's "Python Programming".
43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb introduction to Computer Science Aug. 19 2011
By Daquan Wright - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm rather new to CS, am a major in it as well. I dabble in various languages, which range from: Python to PHP to MooTools. This book teaches you theoretical computer science concepts as well as the art of programming via Python 3. It doesn't have a ton of pages and it executes its goal very well, which is to introduce students to the field of computer science and to focus on problem solving instead of complicated syntax and compiler issues. The programs are very mathematically based and it's a bit tedious (I find most technical subjects are), but the examples are fascinating if you love the idea of what can be computed. You'll broaden your mind and be ready to dive into actual programming after doing the exercises in this book.

The key point I want to drive home, is that this book is designed to teach the theory and concepts of Computer Science as it relates to programming and computing. It's not a book that teaches you Python step by step, but you'll certainly be capable of programming in Python after a thorough reading. You really need to sit down and read over the book a couple of times. I do this for my math texts as well, understanding and reasoning the material is fundamental to obtaining the knowledge in it.

Because it's teaching broad theory that applies to all modern programming languages, I find it rich but it takes far more time to understand than say just a tutorial on language. However, this book is what should be your foundation for when you eventually will begin embarking on various programming languages and development tools.
57 of 65 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, But Some Bad Habits Are Taught By the Author June 5 2013
By Kaydell - Published on Amazon.com
I had the opportunity to teach a student "Introduction to Computer Science, Using Python", one-on-one so I selected this book and she bought us each a copy.

The book's OK I guess. Though, in chapter 1 the author introduced "Chaos Theory" which is OK I guess, but I would have rather seen more and simpler coding examples, such as "here's a simple sequence of instructions", and especially "here's a simple for-loop" before putting it all together and talking about chaos theory.

Also, from the first chapter and throughout the book, the author repeatedly misused the eval() function. There was a so called example something like the following:

x = eval(input("Enter a floating-point number: "))

This is just bad practice. It's laziness on the author's part. It's bad to let the user type in anything and then call the eval() function since eval() evaluates whatever the user types in as Python code.

This is the kind of bad security practice that allows hackers to steal or destroy data.

This security problem was fixed in Python3 and the author is reducing things back to the Python2 level of insecurity.

What would be better is code such as the following:

x = float(input("Enter a floating-point number: "))

Then, if the user typed in something bad, an exception would be thrown.

Eventually, I would take it a step further and make a function to ask the user for a float:

def askFloat(prompt):
return float(input(prompt))

x = askFloat("Enter a floating-point number: ")

Then, as the course progressed, I would add to the function askFloat() so that it would handle bad input, such as alphabetic input too, and loop and let the user try again.

Where I learned computer programming from, they taught us to develop programs that could correctly handle anything that the user could enter.
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