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Foundations of Python Programming: Functions First

Section 1.1 The Way of the Program

The goal of this book is to teach you to understand and create computer programs in Python. At the beginning of each chapter, we will outline for you the learning goals and objectives that should be accomplished once you have gone through the chapter.
Understanding computer programs requires a very step-by-step approach where each step is very specifically expressed. When executed (run), programs are the sequences of actions performed that transform input data into output data. They execute very reliably, and very fast, but not creatively. Computers do what you tell them to do, not what you mean for them to do. Thus, understanding computer code involves a lot of mental simulation of what will actually happen, not what you wish would happen.
The tools we use to write computer programs can feel quite mechanistic - precise, specific, and linear, but the process of programming requires creative problem solving. Problem solving involves the ability to understand and analyze problems, to think creatively about solutions, and to express a solution clearly and accurately. As it turns out, the process of learning to program is an excellent opportunity to practice your problem solving skills.

Subsection 1.1.1 Learning Goals

This chapter will:
  • Introduce terminology used to describe how solutions are expressed.
  • Introduce the Python programming language and how it is executed in this book.
  • Distinguish between formal & natural languages.
  • Demonstrate a simple program.
  • Introduce the use of comments to express a program’s algorithm.

Subsection 1.1.2 Objectives

Readers should be able to:
  • Use the Activecode and CodeLens components to explore and understand code.
  • Answer the Checkpoint questions successfully.
  • Express how an algorithm is related to a program.
  • Define, and express the basic components of, a program.
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