[Edu-sig] interactive python tutorial online (as tryruby)

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Mon Dec 15 20:17:49 CET 2008

Just to be less ranty, as a math teacher (albeit a gnu one), I share
an investment in matrix and vector notation, sigma notation, Riemann
sum notation and all the rest of it (set notation, trig notation -- in
which the diagrams are almost glyphic, a bridge to a more right
brained approach, post-Bourbaki...), however I think what Python
brings to the table is precisely it's *differences* i.e. it's not even
pretending to emulate these older language games (in contrast to
Mathematica, which very much is (MathCad also, the one I use more,
Maple in the background)).

Sigma notation is a do-loop.  Indefinite (aka infinite) series are
likewise generators -- go as far as you like, in the direction of
great precision.  Yes, computers have memory limits but so do
meatspace mathematicians, who just right dot dot dot (...) when their
hands get tired.

Here's an ancient essay at my website giving the flavor of the role I
favor for Python:

Plus this one about calculus:

I wrote those a long time ago, but I'm still looking at a lot of the
same tools in today's classroom:  a ray tracer, a real time graphics
engine, a well stocked library of math modules, lots of fun IDEs.  The
only really big change is the advent of Py3k and its more
Unicode-aware design.  Plus the new IDEs are looking pretty


On Mon, Dec 15, 2008 at 10:31 AM, kirby urner <kirby.urner at gmail.com> wrote:
> <rant>
> Count me a skeptic that there's anything unattractive about Python
> that's to blame for keeping it from wider use in school systems.
> Once you go down that road, of soliciting off-the-cuff feedback,
> you'll get endless nonsense about making it case insensitive, adding a
> "schoolish math" division symbol, or in general making it more like
> Mathematica, meaning superscripts, subscripts... and voila, no more
> Python (I call it the disappearing snake trick).
> I prefer counter-carping about those ugly computer-illiterate
> notations, a typographer's nightmare (or job security depending how
> you look at it): over-indulgence in single-symbol expressions;
> obsession with lambda, sigma -- too clever by half, a way to
> obfuscate, not friendly to children (deliberately -- going for that
> imposing, austere look, trying to intimidate (very Springer-Verlag,
> the opposite of O'Reilly's far friendlier 'Head First' series)).
> Why many smart geeks drop pre- or even anti-computer "schoolish math"
> like a hot potato is they realize it:
> (a) doesn't execute (i.e. is dead on arrival, DOA) and
> (b) is designed to pump up egos at the expense of readability, nothing
> so sane as the Zen of Python at work.
> </rant>
> Kirby
> On Mon, Dec 15, 2008 at 9:34 AM, Andre Roberge <andre.roberge at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Mon, Dec 15, 2008 at 10:06 AM, Jurgis Pralgauskis
>> <jurgis.pralgauskis at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Hello,
>>> it would make python more attractive,
>>> if there would be possibility  to try it online
>>> like ruby has http://tryruby.hobix.com
>>> maybe this could be made with jython , http://code.google.com/p/epy/
>>> or crunchy on GAE

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