Introduction to Python

Course Description
Programming has become an indispensable aspect of conducting research. The following entry-level course covers some of the main components of programming using Python, a popular language for the life sciences and data science in general. From variables to for loops, this course will provide all the basic skills needed to start writing scripts to support data analysis and automate research.

Topics to be covered
This course will cover:
-the main data types and structures in Python, how they are stored in variables and how these variables can be manipulated using expressions.
-the use of conditional statements with keywords IF, ELIF and ELSE together with logical operators to modulate which set of instructions in a script are executed based on input.
-the use of FOR and WHILE loops to repeatedly apply a set of instructions, particularly useful when organizing and transforming data.
-how to define functions and invoke them throughout the execution of a script to avoid writing the same set of instructions more than once.
-reading and writing from/to files in order to perform tasks on large amounts of data, automating processes that are otherwise time-consuming.

Learning objectives
By the end of this session you should:
-Have a basic understanding of the building blocks of most programming languages, Python in particular.
-Be able to write a small script to carry out simple data transformation operations such as filtering or annotation.
-Be able to automate tasks that were previously being carried out manually.
-Have the tools to continue learning Python or another programming language from practice.