This module is designed for students that are completely new to programming, and for experienced programmers, bringing them both to a high-skilled level to handle complex data science problems. Beginner students will learn the fundamentals of programming, while experienced students will have the opportunity to sharpen and further develop their programming skills. The students are going to learn data-processing techniques, including visualisation and statistical data analysis. For a broad formation, in order to handle the most complex data science tasks, we will also cover problem solving, and the development of graphical applications.
In particular students will gain experience with two very important open source languages: R and Python. R is the best language for statistical analysis, being widely applied in academia and industry to handle a variety of different problems. Being able to program in R gives the data scientists access to the best and most updated libraries for handling a variety of classical and state of the art statistical methods. Python, on the other hand, is a general purpose programming language, also widely used for three main reasons: it is easy to learn, being recommended as a "first" programming language; it allows easy and quick development of applications; it has a great variety of useful and open libraries. For those reasons, Python has also been widely applied for scientific computing and data analysis. Additionally, Python enables the data scientist to easily develop other kinds of useful applications: for example, searching for optimal decisions given a data-set, graphical applications for data gathering, or even programming Raspberry Pi devices in order to create sensors or robots for data collection. Therefore, learning these two languages will not only enable the students to develop programming skills, but it will also give them direct access to two fundamental languages for contemporary data analysis, scientific computing, and general programming.
Additionally, students will gain experience by working through exercise tasks and discussing their work with their peers; thereby fostering interpersonal communications skills. Students that are new to programming will find help in their experience peers, and experienced programmers will learn how to assist and explain the fundamental concepts to beginners.
Topics covered will include
- Fundamental programming concepts (statements, variables, functions, loops, etc)
- Data abstraction (modules, classes, objects, etc)
- Using libraries for developing applications (e.g., SciPy, PyGames)
- Performing statistical analysis and data visualisation
On successful completion of this module students will be able to
- Solve data science problems in an automatic fashion
- Handle complex data-sets, which cannot be easily analysed "by hand"
- Use existing libraries and/or develop their own libraries
- Learn new programming languages, given the background knowledge of two important ones