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Python Education Java Programming

Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language 415

Posted by Soulskill
from the from-college-import-education dept.
itwbennett writes: Python has surpassed Java as the top language used to introduce U.S. students to programming and computer science, according to a recent survey posted by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). Eight of the top 10 computer science departments now use Python to teach coding, as well as 27 of the top 39 schools, indicating that it is the most popular language for teaching introductory computer science courses, according to Philip Guo, a computer science researcher who compiled the survey for ACM."
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Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

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  • by MAXOMENOS (9802) <maxomai@NosPAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @04:03PM (#47409815) Homepage
    2.x or 3.x?
  • by tlambert (566799) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @04:07PM (#47409867)

    "Top Learning Language" ...OR... "Top Teaching Language"?

    Do we have some great metrics as to how well people taught in Python actually *learn*? You know, for things like memory allocation, pointers, and so on?

  • Makes sense (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pieisgood (841871) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @04:08PM (#47409877) Journal

    It makes sense. IMHO python removes a lot of the hardware considerations that other languages have. This allows for a focus on the CS material, rather than the engineering material. An advantage over java is that it also supports functional programming. That means that you can teach introductory CS principles in multiple programming styles without having to switch languages. Top it all off with forced indentation (not my favorite thing), which makes beginner code easier to read for instructors and I can see why they did this. Now, later they'll get into asm and C/C++ and memory alignment and paging and all that stuff, but starting out it's nice.

  • Java or Python (Score:5, Interesting)

    by benjfowler (239527) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @04:13PM (#47409917)

    Lots of people hate the whitespace block-delimiting, but I think Python is *way* better than Java for beginning programming classes.

    I've seen the transition my alma mater made, between Modula-2 and Java. Modula-2 is trivial to pick up for anybody who cut their teeth on Turbo Pascal or Delphi, and "hello world" is quite easy to explain to anybody otherwise unfamiliar with programming. Try repeating that trick with Java's equivalent, and you'll understand why first-year dropout rates skyrocketed upon the switch. Anyway, Python has some nice goodies in the language which lends itself nicely to teaching both OO, and functional styles in the one language.

    I've even seen this in non-IT specialties; at Imperial College here in London, the newbies learn Python (stands to reason, because it's the weapon of choice for many scientists, especially physicists). King's College, OTOH force their first-years to take a unit of Fortran, which actually manages to be about fifty times worse than any other language I've attempted to use.

    The steepness of the learning curve is critical AFAICT -- you don't want to spoon-feed kids, but you don't want to crush them in their first two weeks at college either.

  • Pascal (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dan East (318230) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @04:33PM (#47410073) Homepage Journal

    Wait!!! What happened to Pascal?!?!? On a more serious note, Pascal was the premier teaching language back in the day, but it really wasn't used much in the real world. It was a stepping stone for learning C, which is where the real power was at and what "real" applications were developed in. I believe there is less disconnect today between the popular learning languages and what is actually utilized in the real world.

  • by hondo77 (324058) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @04:38PM (#47410119) Homepage

    But good developers make less mistakes in a language where there's less freedom...

    Some of us like having the training wheels off our bikes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @04:41PM (#47410137)

    As much as I hate whitespace formatted languages I hate Ruby most of all. The language itself isn't the problem, it's the hipster asshats who promote it. They should all die in a fire. I'm working on master's in CS and we still use Java, C, and C++ so it's going to be a while before any of the decent languages are displaced in academia.

  • Re:Java or Python (Score:5, Interesting)

    by St.Creed (853824) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @04:41PM (#47410145)

    Why o why do people drop Pascal? It's still one of the best languages to learn how to program: it's typesafe, compilers plenty, and you can easily create custom types (records). With pointers to records you can make lists, trees etc. - all the constructs basic to the trade.

  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @05:15PM (#47410417) Homepage Journal
    The overwhelming majority of CSci graduates that I have known started undergrad by learning Scheme. IIRC that language was actually built for the purpose of teaching the fundamentals of programming. Why was it replaced (beyond the fact that hardly anyone in the real world uses it)?
  • by goltzc (1284524) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @05:21PM (#47410453)
    Back in 2001 I was attending Minnesota State University Mankato. The CS program there did all of the introductory programming courses in Python. A year or two prior to my enrollment all the intro classes were taught in Java. The profs found that students would get hung up on java syntax when their goal was to teach them basic programming concepts so they switched to Python. Courses in Python only lasted for a couple semesters. After that the rest of the curriculum was primarily taught in Java. I think that Python accomplished the CS department's goal quite well.
  • by supton (90168) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @06:05PM (#47410741)

    You attribute the mistakes of idiots to their language of choice? What does that say about your ability to judge the merits of technical people you work with?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @07:20PM (#47411247)

    Visual Studio, .NET, and C# are decent tools. Being somewhat limited to Windows is kind of a drag, but otherwise I don't see why your bashing Microsoft.

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