- Paperback: 552 pages
- Publisher: Franklin, Beedle & Associates; 3rd edition (August 8, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1590282752
- ISBN-13: 978-1590282755
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 241 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science, 3rd Ed. 3rd Edition
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Disguised as a Python textbook, it is really an introduction to the fine art of programming, using Python merely as the preferred medium for beginners. This is how I have always imagined Python would be most useful in education: not as the only language, but as a first language, just as in art one might start learning to draw using a pencil rather than trying to paint in oil right away. --from the Foreword by Guido van Rossum, creator of Python
Zelle's book introduces Python and computer science concepts in a style that beginning students find appealing and easy to understand. --Dave Reed, Capital University
Top customer reviews
I've always wanted to learn computer programming since I was a kid, back in the days when computers were the scary things they had in school libraries that adults were scared of getting too close to. I even bought a book on C when I was young enough to only require one digit in my age, and I didn't even own a computer and probably had only used one a few dozen times. I have throughout my life bought, attempted to learn, and failed miserably at learning programming many times. Each time I get terribly stuck and confused. I curse the writers of these books who advertise "programming for the absolute beginner" who I seem so disconnected to. I figured it was me, that maybe I wasn't smart enough, or that for some reason I just could never learn how to do cool stuff with a computer. In my most recent spate I bought another book on computer programming - also on Python. While I did learn to do some stuff, there was still this weird disconnect.
But this book is different and now I finally realize what I had been struggling with: the author *actually explains* what each programming concept does. This sounds silly - of course all programming books do that! But you'd be wrong. Apparently understanding what something like "for i in range(10):" does and what each part is for and called is in the realm of 'computer science.' It sounds stupid, but it took me a while in my first couple of attempts at learning programming in the early days, to realize (because no one actually said it), that a computer program is executed from top to bottom, left to right. A program is more like a player piano. So in the first couple of chapters I was delighted that the author actually says that.
So I guess the difference between this book and all the others I've read is that even if the other books say it's for someone who has never programmed before, they make a lot of assumptions about what you know and what you should have figured out from the context. But this book actually explains each concept as it comes up. In fact, this book is more explanation than code. Which is good because when you're starting out you're full of funny concepts about how programming might work. You don't necessarily understand that when you write "x = 2 + y" and then later change the value of y, that won't actually change the value of x. And the reason you don't know that is because the author didn't bother explaining to you exactly how variables work in Python.
So for learning Python, this is a great resource and exactly what I needed after two decades of on-and-off spates or trying to learn programming. As for learning Computer Science? I guess I don't know a lot about it, but I don't think this would be a great resource. This book doesn't look like it explains binary code to you, or how transistors work, haw NAND and OR circuits work, or any of those sorts of things. There is some of that - it briefly explains the difference between hardware and software, CPU, RAM, etc. But really it's fairly superficial coverage. So the book really should be called Python Programming: A Concept-Based Approach. If I took a class called "an introduction to programming" I would be extremely happy if they assigned this book, but if the class was called "an introduction to computer science" I'd feel as if the class was misrepresented.
Also, I'd also say don't buy this book if you already have a good grounding in some other computer programming language. I think one of those many other books that I struggled with would be a much better fit for you. You won't be lost in poorly defined terminology or zip past what a thing does and focus mostly just on how Python does it. This book will spend way too much time explaining those things you've already figured out by now. If know C++ or Java or whatever, you probably already know the difference between a float and an integer and at the most just need a refresher.
Anyway, I didn't see any other reviews mention these points and I really am glad I found this book. So hopefully you guys will understand better what this book is really all about, which the description does a poor job of doing, in my opinion.
I would definitely say that these two books are great to read alongside each other if you are new to the field/terminology since Briggs's book takes a much slower approach when explaining terms, which results in you spending more than a couple pages reviewing key terms. Some may find that boring and want to jump right into this book -- but just keep in mind that although this book does seem to explain everything you need to know about the basics of programming in python, it is meant to supplement a college level course at a pace fast enough to be completed in a semester. You won't have the joy of being able to slowly get introduced to functions and "strings" and then "loops" etc.. All of that is essentially thrown at you in the first chapter and you have to put in a fair amount of effort to make sense of all of it as you go along.
Aside from that, I'm currently on chapter 3 of this book and at this point I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking to quickly dive into programming
The text is easy to read, the examples are well done, and it has proved to be a VERY useful book in the classroom. But wait, there's more. I emailed Dr. Zelle (the author) with a couple of questions and he responded quickly and was quite helpful. What more could you possibly ask for? An affordable text book, you say? Look no further! At this price and with these features, you simply CAN'T GO WRONG!!!