Chris Castiglione Co-founder of Adjunct Prof at Columbia University Business School.

10 Reasons to Learn Python Programming

8 min read

a woman learning python coding Python is one of the most popular programming languages that exist. It’s simple, easy to learn and powerful enough to build a web application and automate routine tasks.

For anyone starting, Python is a great programming language that will make you feel productive without too much effort. Though it depends on each person and their motivations, learning Python makes sense because it’s simple: it has easy to understand commands and syntax.

For experienced programmers or someone who already knows a programming language like Ruby, C#, Java, or JavaScript, learning Python means adding a new and powerful tool in your toolbox. For experienced developers who are looking to go into Python is also especially useful if you’re considering a job in Data Science or Machine Learning., learning Python is the next logical step because it’s quickly becoming the most used programming language in those areas, and there are powerful frameworks and libraries available for them.

Python has made me a much better developer and helped me to solve real-world problems. I’d love to share my story with you — here are 10 reasons why you should learn Python:

1. If you are a beginner programmer, learn Python first!

When I started programming I got my hands on the BASIC programming language.. The name was appealing: BASIC.

As a novice, you immediately want to start getting acquainted with the language and see what you can do with it.

As I made steady progress learning the language, my frustration kept increasing as I felt I couldn’t really do anything super-exciting with it, except for very basic things, like adding up numbers, concatenating strings and just rendering rudimentary output characters on the screen.

There was nothing really super exciting I could do with the language. I was not able to access computer resources, such as disks, memory, low-level file handling, work with images, perform system analysis and actually build anything that was fully useful in the real world.

I spent a decent amount of time learning the concepts behind the language, but I had nothing to show for all those concepts I had learned.

After overcoming my frustrations with BASIC, I moved on and found Turbo Pascal and Turbo C, both from Borland. After getting acquainted with both, I was able to do amazing things. I even built a small clone of the Norton Commander program, which we called Freiherr Commander.

The only problem with Turbo Pascal and Turbo C was that it took a long time to get anything done. Usually, a lot of code was involved and debugging pointers was not easy. After a few years and many lines of code with C and Pascal, both strongly-typed languages, I started to explore dynamic and scripting languages and this lead me to find Python.

When delving into a new programming language, the first thing I tend to do is to learn the syntax and check if there are any similarities to what I already know. This is what I did when I first got my hands on Python.

I explored Python’s language constructs, it’s special keywords, and overall the syntax. With this, I was able to quickly draw similarities on how to do in Python the same things I was used to writing in BASIC.  

After a couple of months playing around with Python, I was impressed by how the code was easily readable. It almost felt like writing basic in my native language.

Compared to Pascal and C, I felt like I wasn’t being forced to write my code an Object-Oriented way, even though the language supports it. My Python code was elegant, easy to read and I was able to do the same things I could achieve with C, but with fewer lines of code and without running into obscure runtime exceptions or lose pointers that lead to memory errors.

I was also amazed by how the use of whitespace in my Python code was used to give structure to the code blocks. I feel grateful to BASIC and Pascal which taught the fundamental concepts behind programming, but Python could do that too, the same way, yet in a much simpler and enjoyable manner.

So, if you are still trying to decide on which programming language you should learn first, give Python some serious considerations and thoughts. Believe me, in the process you’ll have a lot of fun too, as you’ll not only learn, but feel productive right away.

2. Python is agile by design

If you’re embarking on a personal journey of becoming a professional developer or want to create the next big thing, then success comes from being agile and iterating. This means that you have to try out what works and what doesn’t, and repeat what works until you achieve your goal.

This iterative process allows both hobby developers and startups to build their way to success. Python is a perfect language for this.

The reason Python is great for moving your way upwards is that it allows you to code quickly and go from concept to implementation in a very fast way.

Do you ever wonder how Dropbox became the powerhouse it is today? It has a small secret many are not familiar with, and that its core product was built with Python. This allowed them to iterate and perfect the product much faster than if they would have chosen another language. It was ideal and also allowed Dropbox to become cross-platform.

Whether your journey involves, desktop, web-based or enterprise software development, Python has you covered.

3. Python is great for web development

When I first started with web development, I used PHP. I loved PHP so much (which by the way is a great web programming language) that it never crossed my mind to use any other language for web development. Seriously.

I have a curious personality and sometimes question the status-quo, so one day I asked myself what if I could write PHP the same way I write Python. So, I started to do some research and ran into the Flask framework. It was love at first sight.

What would have taken me hours to write in PHP, took me much less time to write with the combination of Python and Flask? I also felt that my code was much faster and I could also reuse a lot of the utility functions I had already available from previous desktop Python projects.

As time passed, I never really looked back at PHP. There are wonderful web frameworks for PHP, such as Laravel, however, I was not able to find in any of them the simplicity and expressiveness I enjoyed from Python.

So if you are planning to do serious web development, please give Python a try and check out the amazing Flask and Django frameworks. If that’s not reason enough, consider how many famous websites are built with Python: Netflix, Dropbox, Google, and many more! 

4. Python is at the forefront of AI and Machine Learning

Python is currently the most widely used programming language for AI and Machine Learning, which are the fastest-growing fields in software engineering and Data Science today, without any signs of stopping. The growth is exponential and Python (due to its simplicity and expressiveness) is fueling this revolution.

For years, academics, scholars, scientists, and researchers were using languages like MATLAB for scientific research.

With the release of computational engines and packages like NumPy and SciPy, which allowed for complex calculations to be done with single function calls in Python, all of a sudden Python was directly competing against MATLAB and winning the battle due to its simplicity, and yet have the power to achieve the same results with less code.

Many Ph.D. students and researchers have completely switched to Python and its growth in the areas of AI and Machine Learning are mostly due to the success of libraries such as NumPy, SciPy, and Pandas.

Python is at the forefront of AI and Machine Learning. In fact, it is the future of both, and if you’re interested in doing serious scientific research, you should definitely learn Python.

5. Python means high salaries 

Did you know that Data Scientists are among the highest-paid professionals worldwide? Did you also know that the average Python developer salary is above 100K USD per year?

If you want to see a big change in your income potential, start considering to learn Python for computational science.

According to Stack Overflow reporting, Python opens more doors than Swift (the programming language of the iPhone/iOS) Java and JavaScript. Therefore, Python is a perfect channel for earning more and still keep your options open, well beyond mobile and web development.

6. Python and the multi-million dollar security industry

We are in an age where there’s certainly no shortage of cyberattacks, and security is becoming every developer’s job.

What was once something that was just reserved for elite hackers and cyber-security professionals, it’s now become everyone’s job to become acquainted with compliance, in-app security, and regulations such as GDPR.

So much has been said about cyber-security that you might have already heard that the next World War will actually be won in cyberspace rather than with the troops on the ground.

Although typically security applications are written in lower-level languages such as C++, due to their closeness to machine architecture, the move to the cloud, is giving scripting and dynamic languages like Python a brilliant opportunity to shine, by facilitating flexibility and the ability to experiment faster, while sacrificing some execution speed (which is not that relevant as it used to be) in an increasing cloud-enabled computing world.

Python has been gaining traction in the cyber-security world mainly because of its adherence to code readability, clear and simple syntax, and availability of an extensive number of libraries.

The language can be used to send TCP-packets to machines, perform malware analysis, and create intrusion detection systems with minimal reliance on third-party tools, given its extensive library.

Cyber experts and security professionals usually rely on the capability to rapidly code programs and the feature set to implement new strategies and techniques. No other language offers as powerful a combination.

Python comes with modules to support activities such as parsing HTTP, XML and optimized calculation handling, which are used in writing security software.

Although Python is not low-level like C or C++, it is used to test microchips at Intel and it powers Dropbox (which is a heavily secured application used by millions of users around the world).

Given its power-packed capabilities, Python stands as a must-know language for the serious security professional.

7. Business Automation

I have a friend who is a financial advisor and does mortgage applications for people. His work is super valuable and customers appreciate how reliably he can turn a mortgage application into a loan.

What his customers don’t know is that my friend has to work around the clock to achieve this high productivity, which allows him to make a reasonably decent living and keep customers happy. But, he puts on too many hours, and he was coming to close a burnout.

Recently he asked me how he could improve his life, and if there was anything I could do to help him streamline the process of entering data for each mortgage application, literally made up of hundreds of fields, and at least 20 to 30 documents types per applicant.

Seeing my friend’s desperation, I decided to step in and asked him to show me what the most tedious manual tasks were when processing a mortgage application. I was shocked by how much time each application took and how much data had to be manually entered. Nerve-wracking.

So, to help out, I decided to write a Python script that reads each of the documents submitted, extract the relevant data and then automatically fill in that data for him, on his online mortgage application, so his only job would be to revise and check the data, rather than manually typing everything in.

The result was amazing. My friend was able to go from 5 days working on a single mortgage application to 5 hours per applicant.

The Python script that made this happen was less than 80 lines of code. It proved to be a life-saver for my friend, and if it had been someone else, I could have made a good amount of money by cutting someone’s time from 5 days to 5 hours. Not bad for 80 lines of Python code.  

8. Python is great for testing

Python is an amazing programming language for validating ideas. It includes many built-in frameworks that make it easy to test code in many different cross-platform environments and scenarios. Consider using Python is you ever have to do web testing with tools such as Selenium and Splinter.

9. Libraries and frameworks

One of the similarities between Python and Java (or C#) is the number of open-source libraries, frameworks, and modules available to do whatever you want to do. It makes application development really easy.

Python has many different libraries for various needs. Django and Flask are two of the most popular for web development and NumPy and SciPy are very popular for Data Science.

In fact, Python has one of the best collections of Machine Learning and Data Science Libraries, such as TensorFlow, Scikit-Learn, Keras, Pandas and many more.

10. Flexibility and diversity

When it comes to managing risk with investments, you ultimately come down to one point: how do you minimize risk? In the investment world, it all comes down to diversifying, which comes down to the old advice we’ve heard many times from older folks: don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

The goal is, therefore, to be flexible and diversify. Put small chunks of money into various vehicles. All this ultimately is nothing more than common sense.

For developers and software careers, the same applies. Stay relevant, stay where things are happening. As an example, don’t keep investing your time into learning COBOL just because it’s what you felt comfortable doing 15 years ago when you were probably working at the bank.

While it is incredibly important to find your niche and define your specialty, it is even more important to make yourself marketable. You need to always be employable, by anyone.

If you don’t have Python under your programming abilities, consider adding it. It will help you become diverse, marketable and more easily employable.

Final thoughts

coding heart

It’s really important to know programming and coding in today’s world and if you don’t know coding you are missing good opportunities, and Python is a great way to start learning to code.

For programmers who already know Java, C# or C++, learning Python not only will make you a polyglot programmer but also gives you a powerful tool in your arsenal to write scripts, create a web application, and open the door to the exciting fields of Data Science, Machine Learning, and Business Automation, also known nowadays as RPA (Robotics Process Automation).


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Chris Castiglione Co-founder of Adjunct Prof at Columbia University Business School.