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INFSCI 0012 - Introduction to Programming with Python

(Fall 2015, CRN 29740)

[ Formal Data | Course Tools | Syllabus | Course Books | Course Schedule |CourseWeb | Knowledge Tree ]

Course Tools

Teaching Tools


The key tool for the course is the Pitt CourseWeb powered by Blackboard Course Management System, a product of Blackboard, Inc. A set of course materials and tools is available on the CourseWeb course site. You need to have Pitt University Computer Account to login to CourseInfo site. Use Account Managament Page to check the status of your account. We will use CourseWeb for all communication during this course, to take quizzes and to submit solutions for the assignments.


KnowledgeTree is a system that provides a dynamic access to the course material. From the surface point of view it looks quite like the static "Course Materials" page. However, it is not static. It can watch what you are doing and adapt to your level of knowledge. The link to KnowledgeTree is right on the navigation bar of every course page. You have to login to start working with KnowledgeTree. Your login and password will be send to you by e-mail. You will be able to change your pasword.

For you KnowledgeTree is a way to access several course activities associated with lectures: lecture slides, annotated and animated examples, semantic questions and Parson's problems, educational videos. This is the place to access two kinds of mandatory assignments and all practice content.

Python Development Tools

To complete programming assignments, you will need to write and debug Python programs. To do that you need either


We strongly recommend you using Eclipse, one of the most popular Java IDEs used by both students and professionals. While Eclipse is relatively complicated, it is not more complicated than Microsoft Word or other high-functionality application. Use our guide or free online tutorials to locate a small subset of functionalities that you need for your work with examples and problems. Once you learn the core functionality of Eclipse, you can explore some of the useful pluguns

There are many other free and commercial IDE that work with Python and you are welcome to use any of them if it is something you get used to. However, if this your first IDE, we recommend Eclipse.

Educational IDEs

An alternative for Eclipse and other professional IDEs is a small set of educational IDE that are specifically developed for the needs of students learning introductory programming. These IDEs do not have many components that students do not need while also offering some additional useful learning tools that the professionals do not need. As a result, many introductory classes use educational IDEs. In this category, I would recommend jGRASP developed in Auburn University.

Using an editor and an interpreter

An editor-interpreter pair is a simple substitution for IDE. It is easier to use than any IDE, but this option provides little debugging support. We will use it at the start, but do not recommend this option for more advanced parts of the class unless you have special reason to use it. Here are some free software options for this way.

Python Interpreter

Using a Python interpreter is very easy and matches the demonstrations in the course books. A Python interpreter should already be installed on your Mac and Linux computer and might be available for Windows as well. It could be accessed by typing Python in the command line. You could also download Python for your mobile phones or tablets. However, do check the version of this already installed interpreter. The course is be based on Python 3. While the difference with older versions (i.e., 2.7.5) in the context of the course are minimal and will be explained, it is still better to use Python 3 interpreter where all course examples will work correctly. Please, see link below for Python 3 for Mac and Windows. Here are good versions of iOS and Android Python Interpreters.

Program Editor

You can use any text editor that you are familiar with. If you want a little bit more comfort and functionality, use one of the following free editors that are specially designed for editing programs such as Mac OS Text Wrangler.

Copyright © 2015 Peter Brusilovsky