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Python for Data Analysis, 2nd Edition by Wes McKinney

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Chapter 2. Python Language Basics, IPython, and Jupyter Notebooks

When I wrote the first edition of this book in 2011 and 2012, there were fewer resources available for learning about doing data analysis in Python. This was partially a chicken-and-egg problem; many libraries that we now take for granted, like pandas, scikit-learn, and statsmodels, were comparatively immature back then. In 2017, there is now a growing literature on data science, data analysis, and machine learning, supplementing the prior works on general-purpose scientific computing geared toward computational scientists, physicists, and professionals in other research fields. There are also excellent books about learning the Python programming language itself and becoming an effective software engineer.

As this book is intended as an introductory text in working with data in Python, I feel it is valuable to have a self-contained overview of some of the most important features of Python’s built-in data structures and libraries from the perspective of data manipulation. So, I will only present roughly enough information in this chapter and Chapter 3 to enable you to follow along with the rest of the book.

In my opinion, it is not necessary to become proficient at building good software in Python to be able to productively do data analysis. I encourage you to use the IPython shell and Jupyter notebooks to experiment with the code examples and to explore the documentation for the various types, functions, and methods. ...

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