Python for Physics and Astronomy

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The Python programming language is a widely used tool for basic research and engineering. Its rapid rise in popularity is supported by comprehensive, largely open-source, contributions from scientists who use it for their own work. This short course offers an introduction to Python with examples drawn from physics and astronomy as part of a full semester Research Methods class.

The examples are collected here.

All the assignments are here.

Homework should be uploaded here.

The topics and examples covered are --

  1. Why program? Choosing a language.
  2. Very simple Python
    1. Installing it on your computer
    2. Using it in real time
    3. Using code as a standalone program
    4. Examples
    5. Assignments
  3. Elements of Python programming
    1. Input and output
    2. Data types: numbers and strings
    3. Lists, tuples, dictionaries, and statements
    4. Examples
    5. Assignments
  4. Solving problems with Python
    1. Flow control
    2. Functions
    3. Iteration
    4. Examples
    5. Assignments
  5. Graphics with Python
    1. Installation of matplotlib
    2. Learning the basics of 2D data and function plotting
    3. A little 3d plotting
    4. Examples
    5. Assignments
  6. NumPy, SciPy and SciKits
    1. Numpy
      1. Arrays
      2. Indexing
      3. Functions
      4. Matrix and vector math
      5. Fourier Transforms
    2. SciPy and SciKits
      1. Interpolation
      2. Integration
      3. Statistics
    3. Examples
    4. Assignments
  7. Images
    1. Python Imaging Library - PIL
    2. Astronomical FITS files with Pyfits
    3. FITS headers
    4. Processing and displaying images
    5. Scipy and Scikit for image processing
    6. Examples
    7. Assignments
  8. Data acquisition and processing
    1. Real world interfacing
    2. Numerical data from images
    3. Fourier Transforms
    4. Spectra
    5. Probability and statistics
    6. Examples
    7. Assignments
  9. User interfaces
    1. Command line and the operating system
    2. Graphical user interfaces in Python (GUI)
    3. Examples
    4. Assignments
  10. Working with the web
    1. HTTP servers
    2. Getting data from servers
    3. Sending data to servers
    4. Common gateway interface - CGI
    5. Using Python with CGI
    6. Programming for server-side processing
    7. Examples
    8. Assignments
  11. Comparing Python to other languages
    1. Bash scripting in Unix-like systems
    2. Very simple C
    3. Using Python with other code
    4. Android for web development
    5. LabVIEW for instrument control and data analysis
    6. Java for astronomical calculations: AstroCC
    7. Java for astronomical image processing and photometry: AstroImageJ