2.1 Why Python is the Ideal Language for Teaching Numerical Modeling

Monday, 11 January 2016: 1:30 PM
Room 225 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Alex J. DeCaria, Millersville University, Millersville, PA

A course in numerical modeling should include a balance of theory and practical programming experience. Although numerical models can be written in virtually any programming language, some are better suited for the classroom environment. Python, with its simple and intuitive syntax, is the ideal language for students who are learning numerical modeling. Other advantages include the elimination of the compilation step prior to execution, and the ease of getting feedback and immediate visualization of results with readily available and robust plotting libraries. These advantages tip the scales in Python's favor compared with compiled languages such as Fortran or C++. Unlike other non-compiled languages such as Matlab and IDL, Python is also non-proprietary and easily available across all operating systems without licensing fees.

For several years now Python has been incorporated into the undergraduate meteorology curriculum at Millersville University, including a course in numerical modeling. It is the third language that has been used in the evolution of this course, being preceded by Fortran and IDL. In this presentation the use of Python, including IPython Notebook, for teaching numerical modeling to undergraduates is discussed, and its advantages further explained.

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