Chapter 2. Python Basics

Now that you are all set up to run Python on your computer, let’s go over some basics. We will build on these initial concepts as we move through the book, but we need to learn a few things before we are able to continue.

In the previous chapter, you tested your installation with a couple of lines of code:

import sys
import pprint

By the end of this chapter, you will understand what is happening in each of those lines and will have the vocabulary to describe what the code is doing. You will also learn about different Python data types and have a basic understanding of introductory Python concepts.

We will move quickly through this material, focusing on what you need to know to move on to the next chapters. New concepts will come up in future chapters as we need them. We hope this approach allows you to learn by applying these new concepts to datasets and problems that interest you.

Before we continue, let’s launch our Python interpreter. We will be using it to run our Python code throughout this chapter. It is easy to skim over an introductory chapter like this one, but we cannot emphasize enough the importance of physically typing what you see in the book. Similar to learning a spoken language, it is most useful to learn by doing. As you type the exercises in this book and run the code, you will encounter numerous errors, and debugging (working through these errors) will help you gain knowledge.

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