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

Shannon -jj Behrens jjinux at gmail.com
Sat May 30 01:50:09 CEST 2009

On Fri, May 29, 2009 at 4:30 PM, wesley chun <wescpy at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 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
> [http://dirtsimple.org/2004/12/python-is-not-java.html]).
> 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.

Since we're on the subject of SICP, I'd like to mention the fact that
a lot of people are calling "Concepts, Techniques, and Models of
Computer Programming" a successor to SICP.  Alex Martelli recommended
it to me, and I'm going through it right now.  It's *huge*, so it'll
probably take me a year or more, but I'm absolutely *loving it*.  It's
based on this programming language called Oz.  I've written a bit
about my experiences so far here:

Ok, sorry for going so far off topic ;)

Best Regards,

In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things
with great love. -- Mother Teresa

More information about the Baypiggies mailing list