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Python is one of the newer widely-used computer programming languages, having been created in the 1980s by Guido Van Rossum with the idea of being a very readable, flexible, light-hearted high-level language. Its main tenants in design were as follows1:

  • Beautiful is better than ugly
  • Explicit is better than implicit
  • Simple is better than complex
  • Complex is better than complicated
  • Readability counts

Python takes its name from Monty Python's Flying Circus, a British comedy TV show of which Rossum was a fan2. This is reflective of the general atmosphere of enjoyable programming Python seeks to cultivate - for example, 'spam' and 'eggs' are often used in Python sample code instead of the traditional 'foo' and 'bar', and guides to the languages are encouraged to take on a conversational tone.

creator of python

Guido van Rossum. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

As far as functionality, Python was designed to be minimalist, yet flexible in that it allows for a large variety of extensions instead of attempting tot incorporate all that functionality into its core. That minimalist philosophy also meant code readability was a point of emphasis, and as a result, Python has quite forgiving syntax. Often, programs written in Python take less lines than their equivalents in C and can be more transparent thanks to the fact that Python relies on mandatory indentation over many semi-colons ( ; ) and curly brackets ( { } ). This clarity and other constructs of the language make it usable on both a small and large scale. In order to achieve flexibility, Python supports many programming paradigms, including including object-oriented, imperative and functional programming styles. It has a very adequate standard library, can be used as a scripting language or in other contexts, has interpreters available for most widely-used operating systems, and, using a third-party tool, one can easily package Python code into standalone executable programs.

For ease of use, Python features dynamic typing and reference counting as well as a cycle-detecting garbage collector to aid memory management. Its dynamic name resolution allows variables to change type over the course of a program, yet binds them during program execution. The prefix Py- is used to show that something is related to Python and python code usually bears the file extension .py.



1. Peters, Tim (19 August 2004). "PEP 20 – The Zen of Python". Python Enhancement Proposals. Python Software Foundation. Retrieved 24 November 2008. Available at

2. Bosnjakovic, R. (2009). origin of the name python. [ONLINE] Available at: [Last Accessed 14/5/2014].

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