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Python is a high-level, interpreted language originally intended for prototyping or as an extension language for C applications. The language is considered to be an interactive, object oriented-scripting language. It was designed to be highly readable, uses English keywords frequently where other languages use punctuation, and has fewer syntactical constructions than other languages (some call this clear syntax ). Python's history is outlined in Figure 1.5.
Python is renown for its use of white space, as it uses space to delimit program statements. The language takes a lot of features from ABC, a language designed with beginners in mind, so Python is a great beginning language. Python supports the development of a wide range of applications, from simple text processing to WWW browsers to games (as we will shortly see).
Python was developed by Guido van Rossum at the National Research Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science ( otherwise known as CWI) in the Netherlands. Python is copyrighted , but the source code is open source and freely available. And yes, the language is named after the TV series Monty Python's Flying Circus .
Python's feature highlights include:
A broad standard library, one of Python's greatest strengths. The bulk of the library is very portable and cross-platform compatible on UNIX, Windows, and Macintosh. The library contains built-in modules (written in C) that provide access to system functionality (for instance, file I/O) that would normally be inaccessible to a high-level language. Standard libraries include files, strings, math, threads, sockets, CGI, HTTP, and FTP.
Support for an interactive mode in which you can enter results from a terminal right to the language, allowing interactive testing and debugging of snippets of code.
An extensive graphics package.
It is very portable, with interpreters for most operating systems.
Support for OOP in the form of multiple inheritance, classes, namespaces, modules, objects, exceptions, and late (runtime) binding.
Support for functional and structured programming methods as well as OOP.
It can be used as a scripting language or can be compiled to byte-code for building large applications.
Very high-level dynamic data types.
Dynamic type checking.
Automatic garbage collection.
Run type checking.
It is easily integrated with C, C++, COM, ActiveX, CORBA, and Java.
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