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Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science Paperback – December, 2003

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Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science + Introduction to Computation and Programming Using Python + Python Pocket Reference (Pocket Reference (O'Reilly))
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Disguised as a Python textbook, it's really an introduction to programming, using Python as the preffered medium for beginners." -- Guido van Rossum, Creator of Python

"Introduces Python and computer science concepts in a style that beginning students find appealing and easy to understand." -- Dave Reed, Capital University

"Provides clear explanation of introductory programming concepts, and shows why Python is an excellent choice for a first language." -- Russell May, Morehead State University

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Franklin, Beedle & Associates Inc. (December 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1887902996
  • ISBN-13: 978-1887902991
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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153 of 157 people found the following review helpful By John Lasseter on December 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
I just wrapped up teaching a semester CS1 course using Zelle's book. I hope I never have to use another book besides this, because this text is simply fantastic.

This was the third version of CS1 I've taught, and the first using Python instead of C. The use of Python definitely contributed to the smashing success of this class (as did an exceptionally strong group of students), but much of the credit must go to this book.

Honestly, Zelle just nailed it. The examples are illustrative and convincing: his is one of the few books that manages to avoid the trap of silly and unreal examples that therefore provide no context for a student. His writing is crystal clear and very well organized, replete with very helpful diagrams and illustrative examples (did I mention the examples?), and he has obviously paid a lot of attention to the aspects of programming that students find most difficult.

And the exercises: wow. This is the first time I haven't felt the need to write my own (although I did anyway, because it's fun). They are fair but challenging (sometimes very), and for those of us on the teaching end, you'll be happy to know that the instructor's resources come with _complete_ sets of working solutions to all of the exercises.

Three chapters stand out in particular. First is the chapter on graphics (Ch. 5). Students love graphics, and Zelle has included a very nice wrapper on top of the TKinter library, which makes for a GUI package that students can actually use. Second, there's the final chapter that actually introduces recursion and some of the interesting algorithms from the science (searching/sorting, permutations, etc.).
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By J. Murray on January 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
I absolutely love this book. I've browsed through many computer programming/computer science books before this one, and found this one the best introductory book by far for many reasons. For one, the book moves at a quick yet manageable pace, so I felt like I able to move quickly enough not to get bored yet still absorb the material. Honestly, and I'd never thought I'd say this about a textbook for a class, but I found this to be a page-turner!

There is a convienient Quick Reference serving as an Appendix. It quickly lists the operators, functions, techniques, etc, presented i each chapter, so I didn't need to dig back through the chapters when a concept for function name slipped my mind.

MOST importantly for me are the exercises at the end of each chapter. Sure, most books have sample-code, too, but this book gives you a fair number of problems to solve using the tools you have just learned.

So, if you are new to computer science and interested in learning to program in any language, I'd STRONGLY recommend this book. It's a great introduction to Python, but it's also a GREAT introduction to computer programming concepts.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Brian Zimmerman on August 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
For those of you who don't know how to program, this book is the best starting place I've ever read. It's written as an introduction to computer science, by professional educators for a CS1 course.

This book defines all the terms and parts to programming that other "Learn Python" books seem to assume you already know. If reading the tutor section of the Python documentation that came with the language ([...]) was not completely clear to you, this is the best book to get you ready to program.

There are plenty of example programs to keep this book interesting to intermediate programmers, but there is doubtfully anything surprising to experienced programmers. Everything in this book is very clearly explained and organized.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Matt E. on November 11, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this book based mainly on the high number of 5 star reviews. I have, however, been very dissapointed. Although I learned some programming many years ago, I am more or less starting my programming career anew. I should note that I purchased this book for self-study rather than as a course book.

I found this book difficult to follow right from the introduction. On page 12 the author introduces the concept of 'chaos'. I found this to be a rather strange concept for an introduction (he never explains what 'chaos' represents or why it is usefull at this point in the book). The author immediately uses programming concepts such as for loops without any explanation of loops. Again, how is this usefull for a total beginner?

The second chapter on 'writing simple programs' is somewhat better but still moves very quickly without adequate explanation. Chapter 3 on 'computing with numbers' tend to be over-complex in my opinion and I found the exercises to be nearly impossible to do with the topics presented to that point.

In summary: This book is going to be difficult to use if you are interested in self-study and you have little to no programming experience. The topic examples tend to be dry and difficult to follow, and with no explanations to any exercises, even harder to guage how you are doing. This book, in my opinion, requires an instructor to present topics clearly. However, please read the 1 Star review to hear about that teacher's opinion of this book for use in the classroom.

I have since purchased Michael Dawson's book 'Python programming for the absolute beginner' and have found it much much better for self-study.
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