[Edu-sig] Python outside computer science

Laura Creighton lac at openend.se
Tue Feb 13 09:33:11 CET 2007

In a message of Mon, 12 Feb 2007 21:31:09 PST, Rob Malouf writes:
>To turn things in a more constructive direction, let me start what I 
>hope will be a new discussion... 
>[...] What books are the biologists using?

Andrew Dalke has been writing his own course materials for teaching
python to biologists and biochemists in South Africa (and maybe
other places too, I forget about that.)  He is dalke at dalkescientific.com
and would probably send you all his stuff if you asked him nicely.

We sat up at my house one night trying to figure out what would be
the best way to introduce python and ended up with 'string processing' --
or language processing in general.  So 'check to see if your name
is in a file --- to check the long form of your name.  What if the
first and last name are on different lines of the file? -- What
if your name is misspelled?  things like that to make the lessons
grow harder.

Then you move to extracting useful things from web pages.  Relevant
things like: 'Have the tickets for the Bruce Springsteen concert
gone on sale yet?' :-)

Then you get to 'here is a string that represents a protein' -- and
so on to a problem domain that the students are familiar with.  This,
by the way, is for the students that don't know how to program.  When
Andrew is dealing with people who  already do 'how to set up a
turbo gears sever' and how to integrate 'this mess we have over here'
with 'that mess some other folks have over there' is standard.

And I am doing all of this from memory, and my memory of him telling
me how it went, rather than having been there myself, so I probably
have some of the details wrong.  Drop him a line; he's very friendly.


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