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Beginning Python®: Using Python 2.6 and Python 3.1 by James Payne

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Chapter 1. Programming Basics and Strings

This chapter is a gentle introduction to the practice of programming in Python. Python is a very rich language with many features, so it is important to learn to walk before you learn to run. Chapters 1 through 3 provide a basic introduction to common programming ideas, explained in easily digestible paragraphs with simple examples.

If you are already an experienced programmer interested in Python, you may want to read this chapter quickly and take note of the examples, but until Chapter 3 you will be reading material with which you've probably already gained some familiarity in another language.

If you are a novice programmer, by the end of this chapter you will learn the following:

  • Some guiding principles for programming

  • Directions for your first interactions with a programming language — Python.

The exercises at the end of the chapter provide hands-on experience with the basic information that you have learned.

How Programming is Different from Using a Computer

The first thing you need to understand about computers when you're programming is that you control the computer. Sometimes the computer doesn't do what you expect, but even when it doesn't do what you want the first time, it should do the same thing the second and third time — until you take charge and change the program.

The trend in personal computers has been away from reliability and toward software being built on top of other, unreliable, software. The results that you live with might ...

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