What is Python?

Python is a high-level oriented programming language which is easy to interpret, and which has an underlying syntax that’s very easy to read. It’s a perfect programming language for prototyping and for ad hoc tasks, which makes it very popular for use in automation, web development, and scientific computing. Since it’s such a beginner-friendly programming language which is suitable for general purposes, Python today supports a number of application developers and computer scientists all around the world.

The director of research at Google, Mr. Peter Norvig, is effusive in his praise of Python, saying that “Python has been an important part of Google ever since the beginning, and it remains so as our system grows and evolves.” There are several very important aspects about the Python language that need to be understood, and we’ll discuss these below. It’s an elegant language which is very popular with computer programmers because of its simplicity and its clean syntax.

Why you should learn Python

Many new programmers cut their teeth on learning the Python language, and in a number of college computer courses, it is very frequently the first one introduced to students. The reason for this is quite understandable, because it’s extremely readable and simple. Very often, it sounds a lot like English, and with even a basic knowledge of the language, you can actually see beyond the code and get an understanding of what it’s trying to do.

There are many other programming languages which are far more confusing and obscure, which leads to difficulty in learning them. Because it’s one of the easiest programming languages to learn, it’s often the very first language any computer programmer learns and masters. Another really appealing aspect of Python is that it forces you to write code that is clean and understandable.

As opposed to many other programming languages, Python code actually requires indentation as part of its syntax. This means that spaces have to be added into lines of code within a given block in a very specific, predictable manner. If this isn’t done correctly, any code written simply won’t execute properly.

This can be one source of frustration for new Python programmers, but even for a beginner, the syntax can be learned fairly quickly. After even a little bit of practice with the Python programming language, most computer programmers become loyal followers and will swear by it. Since the code is always subject to predictable and visual logic, it becomes easier to read for both programmers and anyone else who attempts to read a block of computer code.

History of Python

A man named Guido van Rossum from the Netherlands was working at a computer science lab in 1989, and he decided that he needed to develop a programming language that would eliminate most of the faults that programming languages had at that time. It took five and a half years before he was prepared to release the language, and when he did, he named it Python after the British comedy show that he loved, Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Acceptance of the programming language was fairly slow in the beginning, but it did get a huge boost when Google announced that it was using the programming language for many of its own internal processes. Then in 2005, the Python Company released Django, which is a web application framework that can be used for building elegant web applications.

Django itself exploded in popularity and quickly came to challenge the dominant framework of the time, Ruby on Rails. By the time 2011 rolled around, Python was the single most taught language in the country for all college computer science programs. Two years after that, it became the de-facto language for research in the artificial intelligence field as well as the machine learning field.

That was because of its tremendous ease of use and its extreme readability. For most of the early years that Python was around and being used, Mr. van Rossum declared himself the benevolent dictator of the Python language, but nowadays all Python development is managed by the Python Software Foundation. It currently enjoys a status as the most cutting-edge programming language of our time, and that bodes well for a bright future for Python.

What can be built with Python?

Since Python is a general-purpose programming language, the sky’s the limit on what you can use it for. It’s the perfect language when you have a complex task that needs to be simplified, when you have a short script that needs to be run, or even if you have a large dataset that has to be somehow manipulated. There are a great many other uses for Python, including some of the following:

  • Open-source software development
  • web scrapers that can harvest Internet data
  • glue code that connects software which uses a number of different languages
  • trading apps that have financial purposes
  • simple scripts capable of automating workflows
  • stand-alone apps which use the Py installer
  • machine learning programs
  • artificial intelligence programs
  • high powered web applications which use Django or Flask.

This is really only a small sampling of the types of tasks that Python is capable of handling extremely well. It is actively used all across the country and in all domains of contemporary computer science. Since Python is capable of developing so much more efficiently than practically all other computer programming languages, it’s a very popular choice for startups.

That’s primarily because changes to small business computer code have to be made quickly and cheaply, since small businesses tend to be on a tight budget and can ill afford any downtime. Python is also extremely popular among mathematicians and scientists, because it has a number of extremely powerful in-house libraries that can be used for statistical generation and for handling complex mathematics problems. Suffice to say that Python has a very broad base of popularity, which will keep it in the forefront of programming languages for some time to come.

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