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A Taste of Python Programming MITx

NOTE: A Taste of Python Programming is offered as part of Chicago's Summer of Learning and is primarily intended for Chicago high school students, although other participants are welcome. The course provides a brief, unconventional college-level introduction to Python programming with a strong emphasis on learning by doing.

About This Course

MITx is offering this six week online course for high school students participating in Chicago’s Summer of Learning. The course, based on the first four weeks of a semester-long MIT course (6.00), provides a brief introduction to programming in Python for students with little or no prior programming experience.

The course will introduce you to the basics of programming, the Python programming language, and some key concepts and techniques used in computational problem solving. It will cover many Python programming features with a focus on what you can do with a programming language, not on the language itself. This is a hands-on course with a strong emphasis on learning by doing. Students should plan to spend 12-15 hours per week to take full advantage of the learning opportunity.

Course content includes short videos and related exercises, reading assignments, and programming assignments. There are no exams. A discussion forum connects students with each other and provides some access to teaching assistants. If there is an interest we may try to schedule one or more meet-ups at DePaul University with MIT alumni who have volunteered to serve as community TAs.

The course begins June 25 and runs through August 3. No MIT credit is available but students can earn digital badges through the Summer of Learning.

Specific Topics Covered

• Introduction to Python: objects, expressions and numerical types; variables and assignments; branching programs; iteration; functions; structured types; classes.

• Introduction to algorithms (ways to approach problem solving): exhaustive enumeration; approximation techniques; bisection search; Newtons’ method; recursion.

• Testing and debugging.

• Cool things going on in computer science research at MIT.

Why Take This Course?

At the end of this course you will have learned a bit of Python programming and some key concepts in computer science. We hope you will be inspired to pursue more advanced computer science courses in the future, perhaps including the complete fourteen week version of this course available through edX!

Prerequisites

• No prior programming experience necessary.

• Intermediate high school algebra and a reasonable aptitude for mathematics.

• A computer running Microsoft Windows XP or greater, Apple OSX 10.2 or greater, or Linux.

• Ability to view YouTube videos and to download, install and run software on your computer.

• A willingness to work hard. This is a rigorous hands-on college-level course.

Textbook

The required textbook for this course is Introduction to Computation and Programming Using Python (Spring 2013 edition) by John Guttag. The MIT Press has generously provided free access for MITx students to an online version of the required textbook for the duration of the course. The open, online version offers the full text of the book in a static, read-only format (not searchable or downloadable for use offline).

Many students find it helpful to purchase a copy of the textbook in either print or ebook format, for use when not online, in order to make notes, and to keep as reference after the course ends. The book is available in both print and e- book editions from many retailers and from the the MIT Press. Both editions of the book are priced at $25.00.

Special offer The MIT Press is offering MITx students a special price, through August 6, 2013 only, of $17.50 (a 30% discount). To take advantage of this offer, please use promotion code TOPP at http://mitpress.mit.edu/guttag.

In the meantime, if you're interested in reading more on Python, check your local library for Python textbooks or search online for a free Python text, such as this one.

Course staff

John Guttag

Professor Guttag is Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at MIT. He leads the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory’s Data Driven Medical Research Group. The group works on the application of advanced computational techniques to medicine. He has also done research, published, and lectured in the areas of data networking, sports analytics, software defined radios, software engineering, and mechanical theorem proving.

Professor Guttag received his bachelors degree in English and his master's in applied mathematics from Brown University. His doctorate is from the University of Toronto.

From January of 1999 through August of 2004, Professor Guttag served as Head of MIT’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department. He is a Fellow of the ACM and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Prof. Guttag is the author of the textbook used in the course, Introduction to Computation and Programming Using Python.


Eric Grimson

W. Eric L. Grimson is the Chancellor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a professor of computer science and engineering, and the Bernard M. Gordon Professor of Medical Engineering. He was named Chancellor of MIT in 2011.

A member of the MIT faculty since 1984, Professor Grimson previously served as head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, as its associate department head, and as its education officer. Professor Grimson is internationally recognized for his research in computer vision, especially in applications in medical image analysis. He and his students have developed techniques for activity and behavior recognition, object and person recognition, image database indexing, image guided surgery, site modeling, and many other areas of computer vision.

Professor Grimson has been actively engaged with students throughout his career, and he has taught more than 10,000 MIT undergraduates and served as the thesis supervisor to almost 50 MIT PhDs.

Professor Grimson is a native of Saskatchewan, Canada. He received the BSc (Hons) degree in mathematics and physics from the University of Regina in 1975 and his PhD in mathematics in 1980 from MIT. He is a fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) and a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).


Chris Terman

Chris Terman is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. He has taught computer science courses in the department for many years and won many awards for his teaching. His research is in the areas of programming languages, compilers, computer-aided design tools and educational technologies.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of computing environment do I need for this course?

You need to have a computer running one of the following operating systems:

  • Microsoft Windows, version XP or greater (XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7)

  • Apple OSX, version 10.2 or greater

  • Linux - most distributions that have been released within the past two years should work

In addition, you will need the ability to download, install, and run software on your computer.

We strongly recommend that you use the Chrome browser while visiting the edX site. This site is optimized for viewing in Chrome. If you cannot use Chrome, you should use the Firefox browser. Be advised you may have trouble with site functionality if you choose to use an alternate browser. Particularly, Internet Explorer (IE) does not support many of the features of modern Web sites that the edX courseware contains, so you are cautioned against using this browser.

What programming language(s) will this course use?

CHI6.00intro will be using the Python programming language, version 2.7. You are not expected to have any prior programming knowledge - this course is intended for students who have little to no experience with any programming language.

What is the format of the class?

The class will consist of lecture videos, which are broken into small chunks, usually between eight and twelve minutes each. Some of these may be followed by "check-yourself" online exercises. There will also be programming assignments.

What browser should I use?

We strongly recommend that you use the Chrome browser while visiting the edX site. This site is optimized for viewing in Chrome. If you cannot use Chrome, you should use the Firefox browser. Be advised you may have trouble with site functionality if you choose to use an alternate browser. Particularly, Internet Explorer (IE) does not support many of the features of modern Web sites that the edX courseware contains, so you are cautioned against using this browser.

How can I learn more about the course content?

Please watch the video on this page that we recorded especially for this offering of the course.

Will the text of the lectures be available?

Yes, transcripts of the course will be made available.

Do I need to watch the lectures live?

No. You can watch the lectures at your leisure - you do not need to watch the lectures at any set time.

How much does it cost to take the course?

There is no charge for the course. An open, online version of the required textbook will be available on the course site for read-only use (that is, not downloadable for offline use). The book has been published by the MIT Press and is also available in both print and e-book editions by the MIT Press. Both editions of the book are priced at $25.00 and will be generally available from retailers starting in early January 2013. Please see more about the textbook under "TEXTBOOK" above.

Will certificates or course credit be awarded?

No. However, students will be able to earn digital badges as part of the Summer of Learning.

If you have any questions about edX generally, please see the edX FAQ.

  1. Course Number

    Chi6.00intro
  2. Classes Start

    Jun 25, 2013
  3. Classes End

    August 03, 2013
  4. Estimated Effort

    12-15 hours/week
  5. Requirements

    Yes

Additional Resources

MITOpenCourseware

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