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How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Learning with Python

4.3 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0971677500
ISBN-10: 0971677506
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Editorial Reviews

Review

...There's ... emphasis on teaching computer science not just as a technical trade but as a mental discipline. -- Benjamin Crowell, in "The Assayer", book reviews and discussion for the free-information renaissance

The concepts covered here apply to all programming languages and to problem solving in general. -- Guido van Rossum, creator of Python

This book is not just a programming textbook--it is a contribution to the freedom of knowledge. -- Richard M. Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation

About the Author

Allen Downey is a professor of computer science at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

Jeffrey Elkner is a high school math and computer science teacher at Yorktown High School in Arlington, Virginia.

Chris Meyers is a professional programmer who teaches a beginning Python class at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Green Tea Press (January 4, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0971677506
  • ISBN-13: 978-0971677500
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.7 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #791,981 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I don't actually own a hard copy of this book, but I read it in its entirety online, and I must say, it was all I needed to learn Python. I began programming 8 years ago in AppleSoft BASIC, and I've now been using C++ for 5 years. Prior to seeing this book, I'd looked into Python a few times, but never really got engaged enough to learn it. A few days ago, when I found a copy of the book on iBiblio, I read through it in two days flat, and now I have a really good feel for the language. The authors cover all the vital topics in a concise, consistent, and reader-friendly manner. I must say that I'm not a programming neophyte, so I don't have an objective feel for whether or not this book can teach you from scratch how to think like a computer scientist, but it certainly helped me once and for all to learn Python, and I'd recommend it to anyone without hesitation.
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By A Customer on November 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
"How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Learning with Python" is one of the best computer programming books out there that beginners can start with! I have been enjoying this book for the past two months and I HIGHLY recommend it for the following reasons:
1) This book is designed with beginners (like you) in mind. In other words, you will not have to hire a tutor to be able to understand this book! It is very easy and clear to understand -- unlike many of the previous programming books that I have come across in the past.
2) It teaches you the necessary programming fundamentals that other programming languages require you to know. Once you have learned how to work with python, you will probably find it pretty easy (as I did) to acquire additional programming languages, such as Microsoft Visual Basic, C++ and Java.
3) This book provides the beginner with many easy-to-understand examples, in which the reader can try out. This makes the learning experience more interactive and enjoyable.
4) Python is a very easy language for beginners to work with. It is very easy to comprehend and tends to be on the "forgiving" side, especially if one makes a mistake while trying to learn to program.
5) Python is a free programming language that works with my different type of computer systems. It works beautifully with Microsoft Windows, Macintosh, Unix, Linux, Solaris, and other operating systems. With the language being free, you do not have to pay additional money to obtain the software.
I absolutely love this book and I hope that you will find it to be a fun and rewarding experience too. Give it a try -- it will open up a new world of programming to you!
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By Nick A. on September 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
I just got the online copy of this (available free under the GNU documentation license). I had some classes in the past, programming classes, all pertained to java and i did not learn much of anything about it. It was just "type this and blarg (As someone in a previous review said" This book is amazing, it has an elegant and significant way of blending words to the point where its fun to learn programming. Stick with the book and you'll not only learn the basics of Python, but you'll learn all the logic and other implementations of computer programming as you go along! Very good read and i plan on purchasing a hardbound copy just as a keepsake becuase i enjoy this book so much.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
AUDIENCE: Beginning programmers. A reasonably good first text. Teaches and touches on numerous computer science ideas. Great for a high school or college level intro to programming class.

FLAWS: Not up-to-date with language features, computer science constructs seem to be somewhat randomly presented (perhaps this is the "muddle") another reviewer complains about, OOP is introduced far to late (in my humble opinion).

ULTIMATELY: Glad I bought it, would buy 2nd edition, have used it as a textbook for university classes.

This is a good guide to programming for the non-programmer. It develops basic procedural and structured software development ideas. It introduces OOP - object oriented programming - with some interesting examples. It concludes with four chapters on data structures.

This is not a systematic survey of the Python language, a book of slick examples for sophisticated programming (Programming Python, Dive Into Python, Text Processing in Python and Python Cookbook are excellent examples of wonderful Python riffs that exemplify state of the art application of Python to real-world problems. All of these assume some programming sophistication, however). This is a nuts and bolts, hand-holding exploration of some basic ideas of computer science using Python. It does this quite well.

Shortcomings include being somewhat dated.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is great at teaching all the basics of programming in a very short time. If you use Python's interactive mode you don't even have to write many programs using this book, as much of the book can just be done via exploration at the interactive prompt.

I recommend this book for several types of users. It does make a great first introduction to programming, even covering OOP concepts. It also is a great introduction to the Python language for those with a little programming experience in another language.

You won't find much about all the modules available to Python, but that is not the intent of this book.
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