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Introduction to Computation and Programming Using Python Paperback – January 18, 2013
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"This is the 'computational thinking' book we have all been waiting for! With humor and historical anecdotes, John Guttag conveys the breadth and joy of computer science without compromise to technical detail. This book is perfect for any student who wants to explore the essence of computer science." -- Jeannette M. Wing, VP, Head of Microsoft Research International, Microsoft Research
"John Guttag is an extraordinary teacher and an extraordinary writer. (Perhaps having been an undergraduate English major -- an uncommon stepping stone to the leadership of the world's top EECS department -- has something to do with this.) This is not 'a Python book' -- although you will learn Python. Nor is it a 'programming book' -- although you will learn to program. It is a rigorous but eminently readable introduction to computational problem solving." -- Ed Lazowska, Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering, University of Washington
"There's no such thing as the only computer science book you'll ever need. But if you had to pick only one, this would be a great choice. You'll begin by getting a solid introduction to programming in Python. Armed with that, you'll go hands-on with important computing ideas like random methods, statistics, and optimization, using tools of great theoretical beauty and great practical importance." -- Hal Abelson, coauthor (with Gerald Jay Sussman) of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
About the Author
John V. Guttag is the Dugald C. Jackson Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at MIT.
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Sometimes it helps to read the textbook material before viewing the lectures, as some of the topics we cover get quite dense after week 6 and the introduction of OOP. This textbook can also be a good introduction to advanced Python techniques such as generators, memoization, and passing multiple function arguments using *arg, **arg format. Although the book is called an "Intro to Computation and Programming," it contains material that is typically not covered in other intro courses (i.e. graphs, optimization, matplotlib, numpy). I highly recommend this textbook!
-From a current student of 6.00x SP2013
The book's content follows the course content very closely, with most of the printed examples worked through during the lecture series. It is useful certainly, perhaps the way your old uni notes are useful, but I would definitely suggest something like Beazley's Python Essential Reference for a more comprehensive documentation of the language and coding examples.
In fairness, this book is presented as an introductory text and seems to meet this specification well enough. It should get you up and running in Python before too long and demonstrate some fundamental concepts that transcend any specific language.
The bad reviews are because this is a new Amazon format and its not obvious when you buy it. Its a .AZW4 which is a format for textbooks and looks like a PDF. As such you don't get the adjustable page widths of a normal kindle book.
So, for large screens or even 10" tablets this book is good - better that a normal kindle book because lines of code are represented as the author intended - but for 6" kindles its next to useless.
Edit: Having read most of it I've upped the review rating to 5 stars. It is an excellent fit for the course answering questions I seem to have missed in the lectures. Having it on my PC plus my Nexus 10 makes swapping from reading to searching and coding simple.
When could we ever buy a textbook for less than 10 bucks?
Unlike MIT Press, who have yet to deliver the paperback I ordered before the course started, Amazon delivered it to my Kindle on the other side of the world in seconds.
I like that the book is written to be tough and leaves room for the reader to figure things out on their own. It also provides information about the theory and science behind particular methodologies, making it more than a simple how to book.
Most recent customer reviews
on MIT open courseware. Thanks Professor Guttag and MIT!