[Edu-sig] Session One: Pythonic Math sa: 8144

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Wed Jul 18 01:18:47 CEST 2007

So this was the first of four sessions, each 3.5 hours long.

This is the curriculum module for "algebra only" kids I summarize in my
CP4E slides for Vilnius:  MVC paradigm, using string.Template, with
two maybe three Views out the back (Python the Controller, standard
vector math for the Model):  POV-Ray and VPython, with X3D if we have

Since I'd just returned from Vilnius, I spent some time briefing 'em on
the conference itself, with Saturday Academy's blessings and

That meant showing Flickr slides of the venue, as well as my CP4E talk
itself, with much of the time on the __rib__ syntax slides, as we'd already
started our Tk-based Python shell session as follows (after the intial
history lecture):

(1)  first ** for exponentiation, explaining how ^ is what many languages
use (kudos to the student who guessed we'd use ^ -- I constantly poll
the class with questions, elicit lots of participation).

Then:  2**100000.  Not every calculator can do that!

(2)  then, after a little dinking with "Python the calculator on steroids",
we go:

>>> dir(__builtins__)  #   car engine, but how does it work, what does it do?


>>> dir(1)  # any integer -- it's the *type* that matters

 [more discussion]

>>> dir('cat')  # str type
>>> dir([])  # getting in to more data structures
>>> dir({})  # one of the most important ones

Pause for them just to play around in discovery learning mode, with
lists and dictionaries, while I struggled to solve the projector puzzle
(it's another new room, lots of good equipment, but no remote for
the ceiling mounted projector -- solution:  stand on a chair).

Now, with Ubuntu running (Beryl for session manager -- a student
clued me how to boot Beryl, after the boot process decided not to,
given feedback from the projector (the one other Ubuntu user in
the room, far as I could discern)).

I then reviewed:

(a) interactively reconfiguring IDLE (we'd done alittle already,
converting to shell mode boot up vs. the text editor default
set by the Vpython installer),

(b) then played and projected in earnest re those data structures,
talking most especially about lists today, as in mylist.append,
mylist.pop and indexing (zero-based).

Then, in response to a student question, I did a somewhat
detailed account of:

(c) import random and using randint as an example of what's
going to be central in Python:  importing, from the Standard
Library, from 3rd parties with different release cycles.

More on lists and dictionaries tomorrow, and probably every day
(I talked a lot about the difference between recall and recognition
learning, which they well understood).

Finally, after all this hard work, it was time to reiterate the overall
structure of the class (MVC with various Views), then kick back to
watch 'Code Guardian' (about 10 minutes?) by Marco Spitoni (c) 2007.

We'll do 'Warriors of the Net' tomorrow.

One point of showing 'Code Guardian' is it's an example of render-time
movie making, versus runtime game making (the latter a big focus at
Europython I discovered, somewhat to my surprise -- Argentina stands
out in this regard).

RenderTime versus RunTime is a big theme of this course.

See Aug 2006 SciAm for more on their possible future convergence
(with RPUs instead of just GPUs for hardware).

I had them test boot POV-Ray in anticipation of tomorrow, close
everything, logout.

Class dismissed!

Looks like we're ready to roll.  More tomorrow then.


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