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What is Python Used For? (A Beginner’s Guide)

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We’ve extensively covered Python here at unite.ai. That’s because it is crucial to the fields of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). 

Python is one of the most popular programming languages in the world, and countless developers and non-developers alike rely on it for a variety of applications. Many people are not aware that we encounter the work of Python in our everyday lives. For example, Python was responsible for Netflix’s recommendation algorithm, and it is used heavily in self-driving vehicles. 

Before we dive into the applications of Python, let’s first take a deeper look at the programming language itself. 

What is Python? 

Python is a multi-purpose programming language that can be applied nearly anywhere that uses mathematical computation, data, or code, meaning it is not limited to just web development. 

A high-level, interpreted, interactive and object-oriented scripting language, Python was designed to be highly readable. It relies on a lot of English keywords and has fewer syntactic limitations than other languages. 

Let’s break down each one of these features of Python: 

  • Interpreted: This means Python is processed at runtime by the interpreter. You are not required to compile your program before executing it.

  • Interactive: Python allows you to sit at a prompt and interact with the interpreter directly to write your programs.

  • Object-Oriented: Python supports Object-Oriented style or a technique of programming that encapsulates code within objects. 

Python is an excellent choice for beginner-level programmers as it supports the development of a variety of applications, such as text processing and games. 

The coding language was first developed by Guido van Rossum in the late 1980s and early 1990s at the National Research Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science in the Netherlands. Derived from several other languages like ABC, Modula-3, C, C++, Algol-68, SmallTalk, and Unix shell, Python now stands out all on its own. 

Python Features

One of the reasons Python is so popular is due to its wide range of useful features: 

  • Easy-to-learn: Python is easy-to-learn for beginners. It has few keywords, a simple structure, and a clearly denied syntax.

  • Easy-to-read/maintain: Python is also clearly defined and easy-to-read, as well as easy-to-maintain thanks to its source code.

  • Interactive mode: The language supports an interactive mode that enables you to carry out interactive testing and debugging of snippets of code.

  • Portable: Python is highly portable and can run on a lot of different hardware platforms.

  • Extendable: Python enables you to add low-level modules to the Python interpreter, which enables programmers to add or customize their tools to be more efficient.

  • Databases: Python provides interfaces for all major commercial databases.

  • Scalable: The language has a strong structure and supports large programs.

  • Libraries: There are many Python libraries that can be used for a variety of applications, such as data science, deep learning, image processing, machine learning, and natural language processing (NLP)

Advantages of Python

Python also offers many advantages compared to other programming languages, which is why it is widely used by both amateurs and professionals. Its biggest advantage is its simplicity, with an English-like syntax that makes it easier to learn and read. Unlike other languages, Python uses simple line breaks rather than symbols to define code blocks. 

Another big advantage of Python is that it speeds up development thanks to its built-in classes and functions that possess an extensive selection of libraries. These libraries make it possible to write code faster and easier, and you can execute and test the code right after writing it. The execution and testing of the code doesn’t require an intermediate compilation process. 

Lastly, Python is highly versatile compared to other languages. It is portable and cross-platform, meaning programmers can write and execute its code on any operating system with a Python interpreter. This is far superior to other languages that require you to modify the code for each application. 

Applications of Python

Because Python is so versatile, it is used for a wide range of applications throughout various industries. Some of the most popular applications include data science, machine learning, financial analysis, web development, automation or scripting, software testing and prototyping, and more. 

Let’s take a look at each one: 

Data Science

One of the most popular uses for Python is in the field of data science, where data scientists and analysts use it to manipulate data for reporting, predictive analysis, and more. One of the reasons Python is preferred for data science applications is its simple syntax and extensive selection of third-party libraries. 

Machine Learning

Machine learning relies on unique algorithms and involves the training of systems to learn independently, constantly updating and improving upon themselves based on input data. Python helps these systems learn how to solve new tasks by generating an output based on past datasets, and based on the outcome, they can update themselves. 

Web Development

Another top application of Python is web development, where it is used for back-end development. It runs in the server of a web application and can interact with databases and APIs following the request of data from the app’s front-end in the browser. 

Automation or Scripting

Python helps build automated processes, which is referred to as scripting. Automation helps check for errors across multiple files, convert files, remove duplicates in data, and execute simple math. Beginners can rely on Python to automate simple tasks, such as downloading online content, sending emails or texts at certain intervals, or renaming files. 

Financial Analysis

Python is used across the financial industry due to its data processing capabilities and third-party libraries that are specifically designed for financial analysis. 

Software Testing and Prototyping

Python aids software development, especially with specific tasks like build control, bug tracking, and testing. Software developers can use Python to automate testing for new products or features. 

Daily Tasks

Python is also used for everyday tasks and by various professionals besides programmers and data scientists, such as journalists, business owners, social media marketers, stock traders, and more. 

For example, Python can be used to track stock market or crypto prices. It can also be used to send reminders, update lists, rename large collections of files, convert text files to spreadsheets, automatically fill out forms, and much more. 

How to Get Started With Python

There are many different ways to get started with Python, but one of the best is to complete a certification or course. Because Python is so widely used and relied upon, there are many different certifications, courses, and programs related to it. These programs enable you to improve or strengthen your programming abilities with the general-purpose programming language. 

Some of the most popular and recommended courses include: 

  • Google IT Automation with Python Professional Certificate by Google
  • Edureka’s Python Programming Certification Training
  • Python for Everybody Specialization from University of Michigan

These are just a few of the Python courses available. You can find a more complete list with our “Top Python Certifications.” 

Alex McFarland is a Brazil-based writer who covers the latest developments in artificial intelligence & blockchain. He has worked with top AI companies and publications across the globe.