[Baypiggies] M.I.T. to drop Scheme in favor of Python

wesley chun wescpy at gmail.com
Sat May 30 01:30:26 CEST 2009

> M.I.T. has apparently made the historic
> decision to teach their introductory 6.001 course using Python instead of
> Scheme!

i think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the underlying
robotics library is in Python, not purely just a "language decision."
even so, Python is a good language to learn if you've done little or
no programming (making it your first), or even a lot of programming.

> http://blog.snowtide.com/2009/03

However, the feeling that this blogger felt when discussing it with
Sussman himself (near the end) seemed pretty positive:

"[He] did say that starting off with python makes an undergraduate’s
initial experiences maximally productive in the current environment.
To that, I suggested that that dynamic makes it far easier to “hook”
undergrads on “computer science” and programming, and retaining
people’s interest and attracting people to the field(s) is a good
thing in general."

his sentiment jives with a talk that jeffrey elkner gave long ago (see
http://oreilly.com/pub/a/oreilly/frank/elkner_0300.html and
http://www.elkner.net/jeff/pyYHS/year01/pyYHS.html) on how he made a
change to his 2-year high school C++ course preparing his students for
the Computer Science Advanced Placement exam by replacing the 1st year
with Python. he noticed more enthusiasm from the students, a higher
retention rate (especially female students), and students were better
able to cope with learning C++ in the 2nd year.

> I wonder if this means that they'll be switching from SICP to Wesley's book?

thanks for the flattery, but i think it would be somewhat difficult to
"port" the bok from Scheme to Python given they're teaching the
concepts of programming in it. someone's actually tried to port the
code -- see http://www.codepoetics.com/wiki/index.php?title=Topics:SICP_in_other_languages:Python:Chapter_1
-- but to be honest, i have to say it looks pretty ugly (and notably
unPythonic). they're coding Scheme using Python syntax (much like the
way Java programmers do the same

i think the market for books that fall into the introductions to
computing or programming concepts
 category(ies) is growing. i'm seeing more and more absolute newbie
books in addition to some collegiate-level books, pioneered recently
with Zelle's 2003 title. it would be great to see another pure CS one
that is as effective as SICP.

-- wesley
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Core Python Programming", Prentice Hall, (c)2007,2001
"Python Fundamentals", Prentice Hall, (c)2009

wesley.j.chun :: wescpy-at-gmail.com
python training and technical consulting
cyberweb.consulting : silicon valley, ca

More information about the Baypiggies mailing list