Friday, August 24, 2007

First Course of Scientific Python was a success!

I just gave the first course based on my book. It was a success. Five days, 4 hours per day.

The students were colleagues of mine and some graduate students. Since the audience had different levels of knowledge about Python and programming in general, the first day was spent getting everybody at the same level about Python. Then we proceeded to explore the potential of Python to improve the productivity of scientists, through a series of examples. Given the limited amount of time, we explored topics which were of most interest to everybody:
  • Manipulating data stored in text files;
  • Interacting with databases;
  • Contructing a simple epidemiological model and implementing it using multiple threads;
  • A bit of graph theory using NetworkX;
  • A bit of bioinformatics using Bio-Python;
  • Integration of Python programs with C and Fortran (we didn't have time to explore Jython);
  • Plus many other bit and pieces such as basic numpy, Pylab, Gui design using Wxglade, etc.

One thing that surprised me was the excitement that Crunchy caused on everybody. I used crunchy mostly to facilitate my explanation of code snippets found on the web, but the students demanded to know how to install Crunchy on their computers so they could use it on their own.

I enjoyed very much giving this course. If anyone wants to sponsor a similar course on their institutions, just contact me, I'll be glad to give it again, in Portuguese, English or Spanish.

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