[Edu-sig] Advice: is python suitable?

Kent Johnson kent37 at tds.net
Thu Oct 7 13:36:58 CEST 2004


In general Python has many advantages over C and Basic. It is much higher-level than C, it has a cleaner syntax and better abilities for program structuring than Basic, etc., etc.

But of course anyone on this list will feel the same way :-)

To address your specific question, first I should say that I don't really know what I am talking about - I don't have experience solving physics problems in Python. But looking at the class exercises I don't see anything that can't be done in Python.

The biggest problem you will have is just being different. First you will have to learn Python, and learn the Python equivalents to what you are shown in C and Basic. Second, the C and Basic packages your school uses have been enhanced with tools for your problem domain, for example the graph() and fft() functions. You will have to find comparable tools in Python and learn how to use them. If you have problems you will have to find help outside of school also.

My suggestion is to try solving the class exercises in Python. This will force you to address these issues early. If you are successful you can continue with Python for your projects.

By the way, on this list you will find an enthusiastic reception to your plan to use Python to _teach_ physics.


> From: Peter Bowyer <peter at mapledesign.co.uk>
> Date: 2004/10/07 Thu AM 03:56:38 EDT
> To: edu-sig at python.org
> Subject: [Edu-sig] Advice: is python suitable?
> Hello list,
> This is semi off-topic, so I'd better introduce myself :-)
> I'm studying physics at the University of Southampton, and joined this list 
> as I hope to use my final year project to create physics simulations in 
> Python to aid students, or (even better) write course material to teach the 
> students how to think about the physics concepts (and program at the same 
> time...).  That is still a year away, and I've not experimented much with 
> Python yet to see how feasible it would be to do this kind of thing.
> This year I'm taking a course in computational physics, which allows the 
> use of any programming language.  The notes however are skewed towards the 
> department's in-house languages (variations on BASIC and C).  I'm hoping 
> one of you could look at the course notes and tell me if there's anything 
> here that is not possible to do in Python?  They are at 
> http://www.phys.soton.ac.uk/teach/year3/notes/ph314/notes/phys3006b.pdf for 
> the BASIC version, and 
> http://www.phys.soton.ac.uk/teach/year3/notes/ph314/notes/phys3006c.pdf for 
> the C version.
> Thanks,
> Peter
> -- 
> Maple Design - quality web design and programming
> http://www.mapledesign.co.uk 
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