1.1. What is This?

If you’re starting into this book – and probably starting into a course that uses it – then you might not have a clear idea of what it is all about. You look at the title, and you have some idea of what “computer science” and “data science” might be just from their names, but it might not be clear what Python and Pandas have to do with anything. To begin our exploration of all of these things, it would probably help to have a high-level overview.

So let’s try to sum up the whole book in one sentence:

This book in one sentence

This book aims to teach you how to solve problems with computers by programming them, with an emphasis on solving problems with and learning from data.

Each piece of the book title ties into that sentence:

  • Python is the language we will use to program computers.

  • Pandas is a powerful tool we will use with Python to manipulate data.

  • Computer Science is all about solving problems with computers.

  • Data Science involves solving problems with and learning from data.

So why is this our aim? Why are these things worth studying? What can you do with the knowledge you will gain reading this book? The long answer to those questions will be found as you work through the concepts in this book and see what you can accomplish. A short answer is:

Why study this?

  1. Computers are incredibly powerful.

  2. There is data everywhere, in increasing quantities and pervading all aspects of our lives.

  3. The ability to direct computers to solve problems with data is a valuable skill in any area(s) of interest you might have – and it’s often fun!

The main focus of this book will be on developing that ability, programming, and its application to data. First, though, we will introduce you to some key concepts and ideas.