Introduction to Python

Gregor von Laszewski (

Learning Objectives

  • Learn quickly Python under the assumption you know a programming language
  • Work with modules
  • Understand docopts and cmd
  • Conduct some Python examples to refresh your Python knowledge
  • Learn about the map function in Python
  • Learn how to start subprocesses and redirect their output
  • Learn more advanced constructs such as multiprocessing and Queues
  • Understand why we do not use anaconda
  • Get familiar with venv

Portions of this lesson have been adapted from the official Python Tutorial copyright Python Software Foundation.

Python is an easy-to-learn programming language. It has efficient high-level data structures and a simple but effective approach to object-oriented programming. Python’s simple syntax and dynamic typing, together with its interpreted nature, make it an ideal language for scripting and rapid application development in many areas on most platforms. The Python interpreter and the extensive standard library are freely available in source or binary form for all major platforms from the Python Web site,, and may be freely distributed. The same site also contains distributions of and pointers to many free third-party Python modules, programs and tools, and additional documentation. The Python interpreter can be extended with new functions and data types implemented in C or C++ (or other languages callable from C). Python is also suitable as an extension language for customizable applications.

Python is an interpreted, dynamic, high-level programming language suitable for a wide range of applications.

The philosophy of Python is summarized in The Zen of Python as follows:

  • Explicit is better than implicit
  • Simple is better than complex
  • Complex is better than complicated
  • Readability counts

The main features of Python are:

  • Use of indentation whitespace to indicate blocks
  • Object orient paradigm
  • Dynamic typing
  • Interpreted runtime
  • Garbage collected memory management
  • a large standard library
  • a large repository of third-party libraries

Python is used by many companies and is applied for web development, scientific computing, embedded applications, artificial intelligence, software development, and information security, to name a few.

The material collected here introduces the reader to the basic concepts and features of the Python language and system. After you have worked through the material you will be able to:

  • use Python
  • use the interactive Python interface
  • understand the basic syntax of Python
  • write and run Python programs
  • have an overview of the standard library
  • install Python libraries using venv for multi-Python interpreter development.

This book does not attempt to be comprehensive and cover every single feature, or even every commonly used feature. Instead, it introduces many of Python’s most noteworthy features and will give you a good idea of the language’s flavor and style. After reading it, you will be able to read and write Python modules and programs, and you will be ready to learn more about the various Python library modules.

In order to conduct this lesson you need

  • A computer with Python 3.8.1
  • Familiarity with command line usage
  • A text editor such as PyCharm, emacs, vi, or others. You should identify which works best for you and set it up.


Some important additional information can be found on the following Web pages.

Python module of the week is a Web site that provides a number of short examples on how to use some elementary python modules. Not all modules are equally useful and you should decide if there are better alternatives. However, for beginners, this site provides a number of good examples

Last modified June 20, 2021 : spelling (d59b3b2d)