Physics 212, 2017: Lecture 2

From Ilya Nemenman: Theoretical Biophysics @ Emory
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Back to Physics 212, 2017: Computational Modeling.

Most important thing to note about these lectures:

You won't learn Python by reading. You have to try coding. If you have a question how a certain expression works, type it in Python console, and test it!

Introduction to Python

  • Algorithmic thinking
    • Example: opening a door
    • Different levels of algorithms
  • Basic parts needed to design an algorithm
    • State (or memory)
    • Rules for transforming states (operations, functions, procedures)
    • Rules for making decisions
  • Assignment operation (vs. testing for equality)
    • Variable is a pointer to a container (object) in memory where a state is stored. (This is not quite correct; we will return to this later).
  • Anaconda distribution / Spyder development environment
    • How to launch it
    • Console vs. editor plus additional tools
    • Syntax highlighting / code analyzer
  • Basic syntaxes
    • Resetting the state of the system
    • Asking for help with ? and with Google
    • Built-in functions, like print
    • Numbers; note that j is the imaginary unit, not i
      • Are numbers real or integer?
    • Arithmetic operations, +, -, *, /, **.
    • Parentheses
    • Importing modules and functions from modules
      • numpy as np and matplotlib.pyplot as plt

We will solve a quadratic equation a*x**2+b*x+c=0 for a=1, b=2, c=-3. Do this by

  1. Resetting the environment
  2. Importing sqrt function from numpy
  3. Assigning values to a, b, c
  4. Evaluating both solutions using the standard formula you learned in middle school
  5. Printing both solutions
  • More syntaxes
    • Functions have arguments; keyword arguments
    • Functions return values
    • Functions can otherwise change Python state

Evaluate a binary log (log base 2) of a number 42 using at least three different sets of commands. Verify your result by taking 2 to the appropriate power and seeing if you get 42 back.

Don't forget to submit your work at the end of the class.