Python 1 - Introduction to Python

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Before class

  • Install Python on your machine by going to and downloading the latest version 2.x installer for your OS. (If you have a non-Windows OS, you almost certainly already have Python installed and can skip this. Type 'python' into a command line to confirm.)
  • Go to and create an account. (A convenient way to do this is to click 'Log in' and use an OpenID.)
  • Once you are logged in to Rosalind, go to the 'Python Village' and solve the 5 problems there.
    • Note: 'click to expand' at the top of each problem page displays the problem's full content.
    • You will eventually need to download a text file and process its contents, so you will need to use Python on your machine instead of the class server.


If you have limited Python experience and want a more thorough introduction than the Rosalind tutorial, some further resources are:

In Class


Basic goal:

  • learn syntax

High level goal:

  • learn idioms/library functions

Highest level goal:

  • learn philosophy
    • Readability of code is important.
    • Collaborators (especially your most frequent collaborator, your future self) will thank you.
    • It's fun to write obscure, clever code. It feels like solving a puzzle. You should almost always fight this impulse.

Side effect:

  • learn a tiny amount of biology


First 3 problems:

When you are done with the first 3 problems, you enter the pool of experts. Idle experts compare their solutions to see if there are better/clearer/more idiomatic ways to do things. Less experienced Python users can request an expert consultant to guide them.

When everyone has solved the first 3 problems, the next target will be revealed.