Python Programming Language for Beginners

Have you never written a program before? Do you want to learn the Python language for beginners? Read on to know more.

Story of a Python language beginner

Let us consider the persona of an imaginary data enthusiast, Asmita. She has always been fond of numbers and her undergraduate business administration course has piqued her interest to venture into data-driven decision making. Data science seems pertinent to her but she is unable to understand how to get around her “deficiency” as she has never taken a computing course.

Python is considered to be the heart of data science. Its deceptively simple syntax undermines its capability and power in tackling all aspects of data analysis. However, a lot of beginners like Asmita rue not knowing the language (or even programming) and find it to be a significant impediment in their fledgling data science journey. They think of learning Python as a “gigantic” and herculean task. 

However, we have got you covered! If you are a newbie who is intimidated by the prospect of learning Python, read on! In this article, we have explained python language for beginners in depth.

Python Language for Beginners – Table of Contents

Python programming language for beginners – Philosophy and installation

Right at the onset, we must understand that programming is similar to learning any other subject. Practicing what you learn is as important as the act of learning. However, unlike disciplines like law, medicine and engineering, you can practice right from the comfort of your desk. This is a major reason why applied computer technology is so easy to acquire and has so many takers.

Coming back to the specifics of learning Python as a beginner, internalizing the philosophy of writing instructions to a computer for getting tasks done is paramount. If you have coded previously, you’d see that Python is a lot more simple, elegant and readable, while pushing the boundaries when it comes to applications.

If you have no prior experience, things may end up looking this for you after a few lessons:

Python Language for Beginners

Credit: Pinterest

English-like syntax and intuitiveness are among the various advantages newcomers report when starting off with Python.

Setting up an IDE and getting Python code up and running on your personal computer is the bare minimum you would need to do before starting. Data science enthusiasts typically like to use Jupyter Notebook. For that, you can download and run Anaconda, which provides other functionalities too. You can also choose various other open-source (jargon for free) applications on the web.

Python programming language for beginners – Where to start?

Python language basics for beginners

Start with the quintessential Hello World! program. This is the proverbial icebreaker for almost every person who sets out to learn the cryptic and wizardry art of programming. Now you can slowly start grasping operators, data types and variables. You will be able to understand quickly that:

  • Numbers and alphanumeric text are fundamentally different.
  • Operators are quite similar to the ones we see in Mathematics. Even BODMAS has its counterpart grinning away slyly in a coy corner.
  • You have endless ways of naming a variable! Limiting your creative self to x, y, z, etc. was a gross injustice and very soon, you would be debating about names that are lowercase, CamelCase, underscored_text (a.k.a. the tech geek!), or none of the above.
  • True and False are more than just words.

With these possibilities and having executed simple operations on numbers, you shall now see how decision-making is made plausible in the realm of programmers. if and else would mean the world to you. Using it more and more would also allow you to conclude that you can choose to execute completely different instructions depending upon whether a condition(s) is (are) satisfied.

You will also encounter the so-called conditional operators, which prove to be the logical counterpart to arithmetic operators. Mr. Guido van Rossum would seem like a benign and considerate figure, who replaced a pair of ampersands with “and” so that it becomes easier to remember. The same shall hold for the ubiquitous or and not in usages operators. New humor shall await you.

Python Language Basics for Beginners

Credit: YouTube

Python language basics for beginners – Functions

Functions are the next chapter to master. Simply stated, a function enables executing a closely related group of operations in a modular manner. It also enables us to prevent typing the same set of instructions again and again.

For instance, visualize a situation in which you are trying to determine the rankings for a class of students after a semester examination. This would include retrieving subject scores for one student at a time, summing it up, dividing it by the number of subjects and then sorting the result in a descending order. Every sub-problem is clearly defined and can be executed independently to increase efficiency and improve code readability.

Return-type and parameter lists will come into the picture too. Advanced topics like recursion are considered food for the mind, which do not feature prominently in coding data science but hold key to domains like problem-solving.

Python language basics for beginners – Loops

At this juncture, you may find yourself pitched up against an astounding challenge: grasping the idea of iteration! We believe that this video explains the idea in the most intuitive way for a beginner:

The loop constructs equip you with unmatchable power and simplify problems to a large extent.

Choosing between while and for, the two varieties of iterative constructs relies on whether the number of repetitions is known beforehand. This in itself is a powerful idea.

The true essence of loops is understood when you rethink the student-ranking problem discussed above. Performing addition and average for one student wouldn’t need you to break a sweat. 

However, the mere prospect of storing scores for ten subjects in that many variables, would simply not be a good idea. Add to the mix the challenge of doing this for a class of fifty and the pitfall is tacit. Scalability is seriously hurt owing to the limitations in storage.

Python language basics for beginners – Data Structures

Data structures allow us to tackle the aforementioned challenge. They allow us to handle millions of rows of data (that isn’t an overstatement!) and do so elegantly. Lists, tuples, sets and dictionaries are the four in-built ones Python provides us with and each one of them caters to different use cases.

Coming back to the student-ranking problem, using a list, we can store the names, scores, gender, date of birth, etc in a single variable. The subscript operator (square brackets, used as varName[index]) allows us to refer to desired elements. With loops, we can traverse (go to every student) the data for each student, perform the operations, and prepare the final rank list, while using a single variable name.

Tuples are just like lists, excepting the fact that the data once stored in a tuple cannot be modified. This is exceedingly useful when one is to use recorded data that has to be kept unchanged. Sets are tuples that prevent having multiple copies of data. It is unordered, that is, you cannot access elements using the subscript operator. Operations like union, intersection and difference can be performed seamlessly using built-in functions.

Dictionaries allow us to store data in key-value pairing. The indices are replaced by keys, which map with values. Quite intuitively, keys cannot be repeated. They are a good fit for problems that require the association of data. The example we have been discussing can be solved by dictionaries such that the keys are all student names. Now you can refer to students by their name itself, which is more meaningful than using indices.

Meanwhile, practicing these learnings won’t need you to buy books or hefty subscriptions. You can log on to Hackerrank and check out Programiz for making errors and learning from them. These do not even require you to have any IDE installed on your device. Further, you can find repositories like this on GitHub and use them to learn and practice hassle-free.

And finally…

With an inquisitive frame of mind, you just won’t be able to resist yourself from learning more. Having understood and practiced the prerequisites, you will be ready to choose the right career trajectory for yourself. From data science to web development and deep learning to building games, you can opt to venture into a wide gamut of domains as Python is a multipurpose programming language.

In tune with these bare minimum requirements, our course covers all of these basics. If you aspire to become a data scientist/analyst/professional, it would be the perfect fit for you since it goes on to cover the specifics of data science and machine learning. 

Learn gigantic Python the lean way with Pickl.ai, never mind if you want to:

Ayush Pareek

I am a programmer, who loves all things code. I have been writing about data science and other allied disciplines like machine learning and artificial intelligence ever since June 2021. You can check out my articles at pickl.ai/blog/author/ayushpareek/

I have been doing my undergrad in engineering at Jadavpur University since 2019. When not debugging issues, I can be found reading articles online that concern history, languages, and economics, among other topics. I can be reached on LinkedIn and via my email.