1.2. The Python language
Authors: Chris Burns, Christophe Combelles, Emmanuelle Gouillart,
Python for scientific computing
We introduce here the Python language. Only the bare minimum
necessary for getting started with Numpy and Scipy is addressed here.
To learn more about the language, consider going through the
excellent tutorial https://docs.python.org/tutorial. Dedicated books
are also available, such as http://www.diveintopython.net/.
Python is a programming language, as are C, Fortran, BASIC, PHP,
etc. Some specific features of Python are as follows:
- an interpreted (as opposed to compiled) language. Contrary to e.g.
C or Fortran, one does not compile Python code before executing it. In
addition, Python can be used interactively: many Python
interpreters are available, from which commands and scripts can be
- a free software released under an open-source license: Python can
be used and distributed free of charge, even for building commercial
- multi-platform: Python is available for all major operating
systems, Windows, Linux/Unix, MacOS X, most likely your mobile phone
- a very readable language with clear non-verbose syntax
- a language for which a large variety of high-quality packages are
available for various applications, from web frameworks to scientific
- a language very easy to interface with other languages, in particular C
- Some other features of the language are illustrated just below. For
example, Python is an object-oriented language, with dynamic typing
(the same variable can contain objects of different types during the
course of a program).
See https://www.python.org/about/ for more information about
distinguishing features of Python.