Python Programming - Getting Started

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Revision as of 19:22, 19 August 2019 by Jkinne (talk | contribs) (Running Python on ISU CS Systems)
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This bootcamp is part of the Programming / CS Bootcamps

For a video explaining how to get started with this bootcamp, see

Getting Started

  1. Reading - start reading through at least one of the following before you start working on the programming problems.
    1. Automate the Boring Stuff with Python - suitable for people with very limited programming experience, this is the text that is being followed for our CS 151 course (as of 2019)
    2. Think Python - suitable for people with very limited programming experience, not very deep
    3. LearnXinYminutes - quick review once you are familiar with the basics
    4. tutorial - good for those with programming experience already
  2. Work on solving these problems - Start with the first problem and work your way up from there.
  3. Get Python installed on your computer - download the latest Python3 version at Having python3 installed on your computer allows you to debug much quicker.
  4. If you are a current or incoming ISU student, or an ISU alumni, sign up for the ISU CS Mattermost at Note that you need to use your email address to sign up. Look for the Python Programming Channel (direct link is When asking about the hackerrank problems make sure to refer to them using the title hackerrank gives them.

Let's see how far you can get with solving the hackerrank problems! Good luck!

Running Python on ISU CS Systems

If you are using one of the CS lab computers or have a terminal open connected to the CS server, you can run python programs using one of the following methods.

  • Execute in the terminal Edit your python code with a text editor, and run it with the python3 or python command. For example,
cd ~
# and put some python code in then exit nano

If you want to run the program with Python2, you would use the command python rather than python3.

  • Idle You can use the builtin Python3 graphical editor to edit your programs and also run them (only if you are on one of the lab computers or tunneling X). The command for Python3 is idle3, and the command for Python3 is idle.

List of Problems

Here are problems to work on from the hackerrank set. Note that you should work on more than just this set, but these are ones we are ready to help you solve!

Basic Python

These problems are all pretty basic - require a single loop, if statement, etc. They are good when you are just getting started with Python.

For a bit more practice with basic problems, try out more of the problems that are listed as "Easy". Once you have completed the once listed in this section you should be ready to complete more of the "Easy" problems on your own.

A Bit More Involved

These problems require nested loops, working with lists of lists, reading a problem statement that takes more time to understand, or other things that are the next level of difficulty. Solve all of the Basic Python problems before starting on these.

And a Bit More

These problems are still a bit more involved. Some require some abstract thinking about the problem, a programming "trick", or other key insight. Note that at this point you are working on problems such that some of the lab assistants in the unix lab may not have solved these problems. This is where you want to be at - you have mastered the basics and are working on problems independently!

After That

If you are able to do all of the problems above, then you don't need us to give you lists of problems any more. You can pick problems to work through on your own. Some suggested places with problems are as follows.

Study Guide

In this section we plan to develop a study guide for use in CS 151. Check back for a laundry list of concepts, keywords, builtin packages, etc. that you should know.