Why is Python the ideal language for beginners to learn?

Let's look at the main reasons:

• It's more accessible for a beginner, allowing you to focus on programming concepts and not language detail. Too many give up coding early on–Python makes this less likely

• It's very powerful–which means you can write any program you'll need and it scales well as you deal with more complex programs and larger data sets

• It's very broad–it has applications in very many fields and not just a narrow scope. It also has libraries for very many fields!

• As it's very popular, it has a large user-base which is very helpful, so you'll find a lot of resources (not just mine!) and a lot of help from the community

• It's a language that's still improving and progressing rapidly. Latest speed improvements is just one example

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The main thing you're learning is programming, and not a programming language. The language itself is "just" a tool, but you don't want the tool to get in the way of learning, as would happen with some other languages.

Once you become proficient in programming in one language, it's easier to switch to/learn other languages

So my advice is, yes, start with Python and stick with it until you feel you're very proficient. If and when you need other languages, they'll be easier to learn then…

@s_gruppetta These are all compelling arguments. I agree, and use Python in my no-prerequisite first-year seminar.

One counterpoint I'll make is that Python's error messages can be more cryptic than, say, Java's. I've had students use the wrong kind of brackets with a list comprehension and get something like this:

(x**2 for x in range(10))[3]

<input>:1: SyntaxWarning: 'generator' object is not subscriptable; perhaps you missed a comma?
<input>:1: SyntaxWarning: 'generator' object is not subscriptable; perhaps you missed a comma?
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.10/lib/python3.10/code.py", line 90, in runcode
exec(code, self.locals)
File "<input>", line 1, in <module>
TypeError: 'generator' object is not subscriptable

@peterdrake in fact, this is what comes out in 3.11 when running that line in a script:

(x**2 for x in range(10))[3]
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "/Users/stephengruppetta/PycharmProjects/Testing/test.py", line 1, in <module>
(x**2 for x in range(10))[3]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~^^^
TypeError: 'generator' object is not subscriptable

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@s_gruppetta Ah, that is more helpful. I mean, you still need to know what a generator object is, but at least it points to the location of the problem.

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