Introduction to Computers and Programming
  Spring 2011
Adam Meyers
Research Assistant Professor &
Visiting Clinical Associate Professor

General Information:

Time and Place
Warren Weaver Hall
251 Mercer Street
Room 109
Mondays & Wednesdays
2:00PM--3:15PM (class)
January 24, 2011 to May 9, 2011
(excluding holidays)

Final Exam: May 16, 2011, 2:00-3:50PM
Instructor Contact Info
715 Broadway, Room 702
meyers at cs dot nyu dot edu
212 998 3482
Instructor Office Hours
Tuesday and Thursday 11:00AM--12:00PM
Wednesday 9:00AM--10:00AM
or by appointment
Required Text Book Visual Quickstart Guide to Python
Tony Donaldson
Peachpit Press, 2009
ISBN-10: 0321585445
ISBN-13: 978-0321585448
Optional Text Book
Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science (Second Edition)
John M. Zelle, Ph.D.
Franklyn, Beedle & Associates, 2010
ISBN 1-887902-99-6

Course Description and Syllabus: This course introduces computer programming using the language Python 3 as a vehicle. The course will cover basic definitions (what is hardware, what is software, etc.), basics of planning programs (flow charts, psuedo-code, algorithm design), variables (initialization, assignment, scope), operators (+, -, ==), control structures (if, else, elif), iteration (using loops), functions, modules, sequences (lists, strings), among other topics (time permitting). While students will learn how to implement these concepts using Python, general principles will be taught which apply to all modern programming languages.

Prerequisites: Anyone interested and willing to learn about computer science and programming can take this class. However, some proficiency in High School math (algebra, geometry) is assumed. As with any mathematically oriented class, the concepts learned build on each other and it is not advisable to join the class late in the term (beyond the first week). This class is also a prerequisite for V22.0101.

Previous Class Website: For more information, please examine websites from previous classes, such as V22.0002.005 (Fall, 2010). The current lectures and class structure may be similar, but will not be identical to what is indicated on this previous class website.

Test Dates: There will be two midterms and one final. The dates of these tests are given below.  Please make a careful note of these times in order to prevent scheduling conflicts.

Date and Time
Sample Problems
Midterm 1
February 28, 2011, 2:00-3:15, WWH, Room 109 Sample Midterm
Sample Midterm Solutions (a .py file)
Midterm 2
April 13, 2011, 2:00-3:15, WWH, Room 109 Sample Midterm
Solution/Sample Answers as python files:
a) turtle questions; b) non-turtle examples
Midterm (except for flow chart)
Flow chart
Turtle Answer
Other Answers
Grade Curve
May 16, 2011, 2:00-3:50, WWH, Room 109

Homework: Read the Donaldson book over the course of the semester and do the assigned programming assignments as the term progresses. This section will be continually updated as the term progresses. Grades on homework contribute 25% to the final grade for the course.

Assignment 1 Due January 31, 2011
Assignment 2
Due February 9, 2011
Assignment 3
Due February 16, 2011
Assignment 4
Due March 9, 2011
Assignment 5
Due March 23, 2011
Assignment 6
Due March 30, 2011
Assignment 7 Due April 6, 2011
Assignment 8 Due April 20, 2011
Assignment 9 Due April 27, 2011
Assignment 10 Due May 4, 2011
Extra Credit (Optional)
Due May 4, 2011

Materials from Class:

Class 1
Administrative Matters Talk
Introduction to Introduction to CS Talk

Classes 2,3
Installation Issues, etc.
First Python Talk (Print statements, Data Types, etc.)
How Computers Work:
Go to Course Documents
on Blackboard Page
Idle Output Class 2

Idle Output Class 3
Class 4
In Class Exercises
(including in-class solution of date problem)

Idle Output Class 4
Class 5 & 6
Identifiers: functions and variables
Idle Output Class 5
Idle Output Class 6
Class 6 & 7
In Class Exercises
Idle Output Class 6
Idle Output Class 7

Python Script with answers to exercises
Class 7, 8 & 9
Midterm Review
Sample Midterm
Sample Midterm Solutions (a .py file)
Idle Output Class 7
Idle Output Class 8
Idle Output Class 9
Python Script Class 8 
Class 10
Midterm # 1
Class 11
Review Midterm # 1
Midterm Answers
Class 9 & 11
Modules & Scripts
(and turtles)
Idle Output Class 9 (repeated)
Idle Output Class 11
Class 11 & 12
Flow of Control
(If, Boolean, etc.)
Idle Output Class 11 (repeated)
Idle Output Class 12
Class 12, 13 & 14
Loops Idle Output Class 12 (repeated)
Idle Output Class 13
Idle Output Class 14
Class 14, 15 & 16
Sequences Idle Output Class 14 (repeated)
Idle Output Class 15
Idle Output Class 16
Program for converting number words to numbers. There are two versions: (a) In-class version; (b) Corrected version (includes Chinese Number Character Program)
In class exercise: interleaving 2 strings
Class 17
String Manipulation Idle Output Class 17
Class 18 & 19
Midterm 2 Review Idle Output Class 18
Idle Output Class 19
Sample Midterm
Sample Midterm Solutions: a) turtle questions; b) non-turtle examples
Class 21
Midterm # 2
Class 22
Review Midterm # 2
Midterm (except for flow chart)
Flow chart
Turtle Answer
Other Answers
Class 20, 22 & 23
Collections Idle Output Class 19 (repeated)
Idle Output Class 20
Idle Output Class 22
Idle Output Class 23 and (These 2 files need to be in the same directory.)
Class 23 & 24
Input and  Output Idle Output Class 23 (repeated)
Idle Output Class 24
Classes 24 & 25
Exception (Error) Handling Idle Output Class 24 (repeated)
Idle Output Class 25
Classes 25 & 26 Recursion Idle Output Class 25 (repeated)
Idle Output Class 26
british-royal.txt (used with geneology functions)
Review Class 4/29/2011 Collections (repeated)    Input and Output (repeated) Idle Output
Classes 27 & 28
Final Review Sample Final (pdf file) answers for most questions (py file)
answers for turtle questions only (py file)
list-of-qutations.txt (put in same directory as py file)
Idle Output Class 26 (repeated)
Idle Output Class 27
Idle Output Class 28

Installing Software:
  1. Go to
  2. Click on Download tab on left
  3. Download Python 3.1 or greater for Windows, MAC or Linux (as appropriate)
  4. Install Python as per the instructions
    • After installing on an Apple, open up  a shell (aka "console") and type "python --version". If 3.1 (or the version you downloaded) does not print out, then you need to make some further adjustments. See instructions below about "Python 3 on an Apple".
    • After installing on Windows, you need to download the Demos as well. I put them in the attached zip file on the class website. Then, copy the folder in the zip file into the python directory. The directory would be c:/Python31/ if you install python 3.1 on Windows Vista and used all the defaults. If you have trouble accessing the files in the zip file, download and install the free program 7 zip.
Grading: 25% Homework + 20% Midterm # 1 + 20% Midterm # 2 + 35% Final
Other Information:
  1. Python 3 on an Apple: Apples often have Python 2.x pre-installed. This means that, by default, Python 2.x is used to run python programs (file type .py). This is appropriate because Python 2.x is currently more prevalent than 3.x. So, having 2.x as a default works well when you, for example, click on a python program that is on a website somewhere. This is however, kind of inconvenient for purposes of this class which is taught using Python 3.x.  Below, I will provide some information for changing the default once you install 3.x. After this course is complete, you will have the option of reversing these instructions and returning the default to 2.x.  (If you have trouble following these instructions, a graduate assistant, tutor or the instructor should be able to help.)
    1. Type "whereis python" and hit the enter key
    2. Go to the directory containing that file using the command "cd"
      • Type "cd /usr/bin" if the file is "/usr/bin/python"
    3. Find out where python3 is and pythonw3 are
      • which python3
      • which pythonw3
    4. Rename the old version of python (so that way you can change it back if you need to)
      • sudo mv python python-old
        • enter your password when prompted
    5. Create two symbolic links to the current versions of python 3
      • sudo ln -s /usr/local/bin/python3 python
        • enter your password when prompted
      • sudo ln -s /usr/local/bin/python3w python3w
        • enter your password when prompted
    6. Go to any python file in any folder (using the normal Windows or Apple GUI)
      • e.g., Applications/Python3.1/Extras/Demo/turtle/
    7. Change the default program to open it. (Go to File/Open with/Other)
      • Select Applications/Python3.1/Python Launcher
      • Click on “always open with” and enter
  2. Python 2.x versus Python 3.x: This course will use versions of Python 3, the version of Python that is expected to be prevalent in the near future. Currently, however, most Python code available on the web and most Python text books assume some version of Python 2, including some of the free textbooks described below. Therefore, it may be necessary for students to understand some of the differences.
    • See for the full details
    • The most important differences for this class are:
      • The print statement. Python 2 allows you to omit the parentheses. Thus the statement print('Hello') in Python 3, would be rendered as: print 'hello'
      • Python 2 has two functions input and raw_input corresponding to Python 3's function input. Python 2's function raw_input is essentially equivalent to the Python 3 function input, whereas raw_input is a special case for dealing with integers. A Python 3 statement like my_number = int(input('What is your favorite number')would simply be my_number = input('What is your favorite number') in Python 2 (coersion of the input string to integer is incorporated into the Python 2 input function).
      • Integer division in Python 2 yields an integer rather than a float as in Python 3. In Python 2: 100/40 = 2 In Python 3, 100/40 = 2.5. Python 3 has an additional operator // that functions like / in Python 2.
Additional Resources:
  1. Python Resources using Safari online at Bobst (note differences between Python 2 and 3 above):
  2. Online Python Resources:
  3. Online Free Python Textbooks (note differences between Python 2 and 3 above)
  4. Introduction to Machine Code, Assembly Language, etc. (the Professor and Pat series):
  5. Computer History