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Day 1

What you will be learning today:

  • What is Coding? Why Python?
  • Variables and simple data types
  • Intro to Functions
  • Operators
  • Strings
  • Introduction to Lists
  • Dictionaries
  • Tuples
  • Sets
  • If statements
  • loops: while and for

What is Coding?

Computer coding is the use of computer programming languages to give computers and machines as set of instructions on what actions to perform. It’s how humans communicate with machines.

Allows us to create computer software like programs, operating systems, and mobile apps.

Without coding, computers would literally do nothing. They would be completely useless. That’s because source code is the set of instructions that tells the computer what to do. Computers have no free will, after all, so without explicit instruction, they’re just sophisticated hunks of metal.

Think of anything you’ve ever done with a computer:

  • Play a video game.
  • Send an email.
  • Search for something on Google.
  • Write a word document.
  • Take a selfie on your smartphone (also a computer).
  • Buy something on Amazon.
  • Watch a movie on Netflix.

All of those applications are software written in code.

Why Python?

  1. Incredibly efficient language

  2. "Clean code"

  3. EASY to read, debug, build up and extend

following is the the Python code that literally tells the computer to print 'I am awesome':

print("I am awesome")

when in Java it is

public class HelloWorld {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        System.out.println("I am awesome");

And in C++ it is:

#include <iostream>

int main() {
  std::cout << "I'am awesome.\n";


Variables are often described as boxes you can store values in. This idea can be helpful the first few times you use a variable, but it’s much better to think of variables as labels that you can assign to values. You can also say that a variable references a certain value.

Data type is an attribute of data which tells the compiler or interpreter how the programmer intends to use the data.

A variable can be assigned to different types of values.

Some basic data types in Python are:

  • int : integer data type. Stores numbers without decimal points
  • float : float data type. Stores decimal numbers with floating points
  • str : sequences of character data. We will be going into further detail later.
  • boolean : Objects of Boolean type may have one of two values, True or False

Composite data types in Python : We will be exploring these data types in detail

  • list : A list is a collection of items in a particular order
  • dict: A dictionary in Python is a collection of key-value pairs. Each key is connected to a value, and you can use a key to access the value associated with that key
  • tuple : A tuple looks just like a list except you use parentheses instead of square brackets.
  • set : Sets are used to store multiple items in a single variable
  • frozenset :frozenset is same as set except its elements cannot be changed.

Variable Assignment

Now let's see how to assign a variable the right way!

Rules for Variable Names:

  • Variable names can contain only letters, numbers, and underscores. They can start with a letter or an underscore, but not with a number. For instance, you can call a variable message_1 but not 1_message.

The following special symbols also cannot be used in a variable name:

:'",<>/?|\[email protected]#%^&*~-+
  • Spaces are not allowed in variable names, but underscores can be used to separate words in variable names. For example, greeting_message works, but greeting message will cause errors.

  • Avoid using Python keywords and function names as variable names. Keywords are words that Python has reserved for a particular programmatic purpose. Some examples of keywords are : print, input, type.

  • Variable names should be short but descriptive. For example, name is better than n, student_name is better than s_n, and name_length is better than length_of_persons_name.

  • Be careful when using the lowercase letter l and the uppercase letter O because they could be confused with the numbers 1 and 0.

NOT ALLOWED: Will throw error

5five = 10 (Starting with a number)

my var = 10 (Using spaces)

my_var* = 10 (Using special symbols)


Why do we need them?

Functions are a piece of code designed to do a certain task.

Functions can be in-built or user-defined

Consider the statement :

print("Hello World!")
print() is an in-built function of Python. It prints the specified message to the screen.

But what if we want to print a statement at different parts of the program?

Or let's say, you want to do the same task,( such as finding the average of given numbers, or printing out names ) again and again, at different times? Would you write that piece of code again ?

Here's why we need functions.

When you DEFINE a function, you can use the same code more than once, from any part of the program by CALLING it. Let's see how to do that!

Defining a function

def task_print():   #def is a keyword used for defining a function
  print("Hello")     # use indentations after the first staement to create the body

Calling a Function

Defining the function means simply writing some code. Running it will not give you anything since you are not using it.

So you need to call the function to execute its body:

task_print()  # simply the function name with the brackets. Now try running it!

What are the brackets for?

A function often receives certain arguments which are used in the function body.

For example, if you want to print a name on the screen but the name is to be given by the user, you can pass the name as an ARGUMENT to the function

def task_2 (name):  # function definition

task_2("Zac")    # function Call
task_2("I can change the name !")
in the above example, "Zac" is an argument which is used in the CALL statement.

This argument gets passed to the function definition. Thus name is an argument that now has the value Zac.

Return Statement

We just saw how functions can receive arguments and work upon them. What if we want to extract some value from the function, i.e. , we want the function to RETURN something?

return statement is used in the function body to return a value ( or values) back to the function call .

def add_numbers(num1, num2) :   
  total = num1 + num2

num1 = 2
num2 = 4
addition_product = add_numbers(num1, num2)  #the value returned by the function is now assigned to the variable "addition product"

Do NOTE that functions don't necessarily have to return a value:

def add_numbers(num1, num2) :   
  total = num1 + num2

num1 = 2
num2 = 4
addition_product = add_numbers(num1, num2)  #the value returned by the function is now assigned to the variable "addition product"
In the above function, there is no return statement. Thus the None value of addition_product

Other in-built functions

You have learnt to define and call your own function. Let's see some more in-built functions of Python

What if you want to know what data type is the variable?

type() : this in-built function is used to determine the data type of the variable

Suppose you don't know what value should be assigned to your variable and want to ask the user for the value. you can do this using input()

input() method reads a line from input, converts into a string and returns it.

message = input()
print("You entered: " , message)

#Suppose you want to print a message to the user for asking the value
second_message = input("Please enter a number")

Converting data types

Data types can be converted from one form to another using in-built functions like int(), str(), float().

However, do note that not every conversion is possible!

Can you convert an int type to a string type?

#using the in-built function str()
num = 1
num= str(num)

How about converting str to int?

letter = 'A'
letter = int(letter) 

letter1 = '3'
letter1 = int(letter1)


Arithmetic Operators:

x = 15
y = 4

# Output: x + y = 19
print('x + y =',x+y)

# Output: x - y = 11
print('x - y =',x-y)

# Output: x * y = 60
print('x * y =',x*y)

# Output: x / y = 3.75
print('x / y =',x/y)

# Output: x // y = 3
print('x // y =',x//y)

# Output: x ** y = 50625
print('x ** y =',x**y)

Comparison Operators:

x = 10
y = 12

# Output: x > y is False
print('x > y is',x>y)

# Output: x < y is True
print('x < y is',x<y)

# Output: x == y is False
print('x == y is',x==y)

# Output: x != y is True
print('x != y is',x!=y)

# Output: x >= y is False
print('x >= y is',x>=y)

# Output: x <= y is True
print('x <= y is',x<=y)

Logical Operators :

x = True
y = False

print('x and y is',x and y)

print('x or y is',x or y)

print('not x is',not x)

Shorthand Assignment operators:

In normal mathematics expressions:

var = 0

var = var +1 would mean 0 = 1

But in python, the same expression has a different meaning . It means that the value of var is incremented by one and then assigned back to var.

Thus the expression would store the value of 1 in var.


A string is a series of characters. Anything inside quotes is considered a string in Python, and you can use single or double quotes around your strings :

  • I told my friend, "Python is my favorite language!"'

  • "The language 'Python' is named after Monty Python, not the snake."

  • "One of Python's strengths is its diverse and supportive community."

String indexing and slicing

Strings are a sequence, which means Python can use indexes to call parts of the sequence.

Indexing - Retrieving one letter from the string

Slicing - Retrieving multiple letters (Sub-string) from the string

In Python, we use brackets [] after an object to call its index. We should also note that indexing starts at 0 for Python. Let's create a new object called s and then walk through a few examples of indexing.

Syntax for []: Starting Index (Inclusive), End Index (Exclusive), Step Size

# Outputs the first letter. Remember: In Python, index starts from '0'

# Outputs the first to fourth letter. Indexing works by INCLUDING left bound but EXCLUDING right bound

# Outputs the first and third letter.

# Reversing a string
Practice 1 :

Print 'I Love Coding' from the string below:

s = "3DC'20 - I Love Coding!"

Strings are immutable

This means that once a string is created, the elements within it can not be changed or replaced. For example:

s = "I love coding"

#try changing the first letter to x
s[0] = "x"
#What do you get?

String Concatenation

Dictionary definition of concatenation: "the action of linking things together in a series, or the condition of being linked in such a way"

Layman term: Joining 2 or more strings together

#we can reassign the new string back to s
s = s + " concatenate me"

How does the multiplication operator behave with strings ?

length = "z"
print(length *3)

Practice 2:

Suppose you had a person's name in a variable:

myName = "Kenny Carney"

However, you want the surname Carney first and then the first name of Kenny. Use slicing to print out Carney Kenny.

Remember: you can use the plus symbol and spaces to concatenate: print(surname + " " + firstName)

Advanced Practice : Palindromes

Given a string, write a code to check if it is palindrome or not. A string is said to be palindrome if the reverse of the string is the same as string. For example, “radar” is a palindrome, but “radix” is not a palindrome.

Introduction to Lists

A list is a collection of items in a particular order.

In Python, square brackets ([ ]) indicate a list, and individual elements in the list are separated by commas

bicycles = ['trek', 'cannondale', 'redline', 'specialized']

Accessing Elements

Lists are ordered collections, so you can access any element in a list by telling Python the position, or index, of the item desired

  • Python considers the first item in a list to be at position 0, not position 1.
  • To access elements from the back of a list, use a negative index.

An index of -1 would access the last element, -2 would access the second last element and so on.

a = [1, 1.0, 'python', True]
print( a[-1])
print( a[-2] )

Lists are mutable

You do this by referencing the element of the list and assigning a new object to it.

a = [1, 1.0, 'python', True] 
a[2] = 'SUTD'

len() function

The length of a list is the number of elements that it contains.

Use the len function to check its length.

a = [1, 1.0, 'python', True] 

Creating a list

An empty list has a length of zero.

You can either use the list() function or [] to create an empty list.

a = list()
b = []
print(a, b)
print(len(a), len(b))

Using range()

range() function is used to produce numbers using a start, stop, step

range(2,10,1) will produce numbers starting from 2, incrementing by 2, till it becomes 10.

Note that it DOES NOT include 10

As the range() function is not a list, you need to pass it to the list() function to create a list.

 ls = list( range(10))

Methods of Lists

The term method refers to a function that is attached to a data type.

A list object has functions attached to it.

These are called methods. You access methods using the dot operator.

Note: All of the below functions are applied directly to the original list

  • append() : add elements to the back of a list.
a = [1, 1.0, 'python', True] 
a.append( 'five')
  • pop() : Removes the last element from the list.
# Remove the last element from the list
ls = [1,2,3,4,5,"This will be removed from the list"]
ls.pop() # Note that .pop() is applied directly to the list I.e. There is no need to do ls = ls.pop()
  • reverse() : Reverses the order of all elements in the list.
    # Reverses the order of the list

List Slicing

In the following example, a list assigned to b is created by extracting element with index 2, up to but not including element index 4. The default increment is 1.

a = ['horse', 'cat', 'dog', 'chicken', 'rat','duck', 'pigeon']
b = a[2:4]

In the following example, a list assigned to b is created by extracting element with index 1, up to and including the last element, in increments of 2.

a = ['horse', 'cat', 'dog', 'chicken', 'rat','duck', 'pigeon']
b = a[1::2]

The in Keyword

a = ['horse', 'cat', 'dog', 'chicken', 'rat','duck', 'pigeon']
print('cat' in a)
print('donkey' in a)

The "+", " * " and "==" operators with lists

Recall that the "+" operator behaves differently with two numbers compared to two strings.

The "+"and " * " operators behave differently with lists, compared to the numeric datatypes.

  • The "+" operator performs concatenation when both its operands are lists.

    a = [1, 2, 3]
    b = [7, 8, 9]
    c = a + b

  • The " * " operator works with a list and an integer.

    a = [1, 2, 3]
    c = a*3

  • The " == " operator checks the equality of two lists. This includes the length and all the elements in the list

    a = [1, 2, 3]
    b = [3, 1, 2]
    c = [1, 2, 3]
    print(a == b)
    print(a == c)

Copying a list

By writing b=a in the example below, we are not creating a copy of a list.

Recall that the = operator is an assignment operator.

What the code does below is aliasing. The same set of data that is referenced by variable a is also referenced by b.

In other words, both variables a and b refer to the same set of information.

a = [1,2,3]
b = a

Hence, what would we see on the screen if we had the following code?

a = [1,2,3]
b = a
b[2] = 5

A list slice creates a copy of a list.

List slicing can be used to create a copy of a list

a = [1,2,3]
b = a[:]
print(a is b)
print(a == b)

The is operator

The is operator checks if aliasing is happening.

a = [1,2,3]
b = a
print(a is b)

Practice 3

#1. What will the below code produce?

x = [0,1,2,3,4,5]
x == x[:3] + x[3:]


We've been learning about sequences in Python but now we're going to switch gears and learn about mappings in Python. If you're familiar with other languages you can think of these Dictionaries as hash tables.

So what are mappings?

Mappings are a collection of objects that are stored by a key, unlike a sequence that stores objects by their relative position. This is an important distinction, since mappings won't retain order since they have objects defined by a key.

A Python dictionary consists of a key and then an associated value. That value can be almost any Python object.

Constructing a dictionary

# Make a dictionary with {} and : to signify a key and a value
my_dict = {'key1':'value1','key2':'value2'}

Accessing a value

# Access a value by inputting its key

# Dictionaries, like lists, can hold different data types
my_dict = {'key1':123,'key2':[12,23,33],'key3':['item0','item1','item2']}

Dictionaries are mutable

# The values can be reassigned
my_dict["key1"] = 456

# New values can be assigned
my_dict["key4"] = "New Value"


Nested Dictionaries

# Accessing nested dictionaries
d = {'k1': [1,2,{'k2':[["Hello!"]]}]}
Practice 4:

Retrieve 'Coding is fun unless you're doing it wrong'

d = {'k1':[1,2,{'k2':['pls do not do this',{'have fun':[1,2,['Coding is fun unless you\'re doing it wrong', 1, 2]]}]}]}


In Python tuples are very similar to lists, however, unlike lists they are immutable meaning they can not be changed.

You would use tuples to present things that shouldn't be changed, such as days of the week, or dates on a calendar.

You'll have an intuition of how to use tuples based on what you've learned about lists.

Constructing Tuples

The construction of a tuples use () with elements separated by commas. For example:

tup = ("This will not change", True)



It can't be stressed enough that tuples are immutable. No variable reassignment!

To drive that point home:

tup[0] = "This will not work



Sets are an unordered collection of unique elements. We can construct them by using the set() function.

What's the purpose? One main reason is to identify unique elements from a list

x = set()



Note the curly brackets. This does not indicate a dictionary! Although you can draw analogies as a set being a dictionary with only keys.

We know that a set has only unique entries. So what happens when we try to add something that is already in a set?


x # Notice how there is still only 1 element?

Conditionals : if, else and elif

Programming often involves examining a set of conditions and deciding which action to take based on those conditions.

Python’s if statement allows you to examine the current state of a program and respond appropriately to that state.

cars = ['audi', 'bmw', 'subaru', 'toyota']
for car in cars:
  if car == 'bmw':

car ='bmw'
car =='bmw'  # What is the difference between the two operators?


The else block is a catchall statement. It matches any condition that wasn’t matched by a specific if or elif test, and that can sometimes include invalid or even malicious data.

If you have a specific final condition you are testing for, consider using a final elif block and omit the else block.

As a result, you’ll gain extra confidence that your code will run only under the correct conditions.

for Loop

A for loop acts as an iterator in Python; it goes through items that are in a sequence or any other iterable item.

Objects that we've learned about that we can iterate over include strings, lists, tuples, and even built-in iterables for dictionaries, such as keys or values.

Here's the general format for a for loop in Python:

    for item in object:
        statements to do stuff

Iterating through a list

list1 = [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10]
# Note: The list can also be created via range()
list2 = list(range(1,11))

for el in list1:

# This is the same as the following:
for el in range(1,11):

while loop

A bit similar to for loop, but it keeps running until the condition is false

The main difference between for loop and while loop is

  • for loop is used in situations where you know the number of iterations to go through

  • while loop is used in situations where you do not know the number of iterations to go through but you know what is the condition that it should stop

# Only when the condition behind the while statement is True, then only  it will enter the loop
# So do remember to update the condition for you to exit the while loop.
# Unless you want it to run forever

index = 1
while index < 5:
  print('This statement is printed {} times'.format(index))
  index += 1
Practice 6: one of the important application of while loop is to validate input from user

prompt the user to input their gender and if its not M or F you will notify them that its wrong input and ask them to input again


Now that we have learnt the fundamentals of python programming, let's built something of our own that's useful!

NRIC validator

Do you know how to verify an NRIC number? Here are some guidelines: The steps involved in the computation are as follows:

1) Multiply each digit in the NRIC number by its weight i.e. 2 7 6 5 4 3 2 in order.

2) Add together the above products.

3) If the first letter i.e. UIN of the NRIC starts with T or G, add 4 to the total.

4) Find the remainder of (sum calculated above) mod 11. (total %11)

5) Compare the digit you get from last step to the following list: If the NRIC starts with F or G: 0=X, 1=W, 2=U, 3=T, 4=R, 5=Q, 6=P, 7=N, 8=M, 9=L, 10=K. If the NRIC starts with S or T: 0=J, 1=Z, 2=I, 3=H, 4=G, 5=F, 6=E, 7=D, 8=C, 9=B, 10=A

After matching to the list, the letter that you get should be the last letter of the nric code ! And thus the nric number is verified!

How to go about it?

Do you need functions?

Which data type(complex) would you use for assigning the alphabets to digits in step 5 ?

Optional Practice Questions!

  1. Write a function to print the following pattern using for/ while loops : *

  2. Factorial of a number n is represented by n! and is equal to 1 * 2 * 3 * .... * (n-1) * n

    5! = 5 * 4 * 3 * 2 * 1 = 120

    Write a program to calculate the factorial of a number given by the user