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Python is a popular scripting language. It is on the top 5 of the TIOBE index, and is very popular in scientific computing, in some fields more popular than commercial platforms like Matlab or Mathematica.

  • Check out the Python website for more information about Python itself, but don't download Python from that website!


  • The MPR module uses Anaconda. This is a distribution which supplies a full scientific programming environment. There is a local mirror of that here. Use Anaconda3.

Python 2 vs Python 3

Python 3 came out in 2008. The problem was that it was not backwards compatible with all Python 2 programs. This delayed adoption, especially in the scientific community. There is probably no reason to use Python 2 any more.

Scientific computing

Numeric calculations are done using the NumPy or SciPy modules. Here is a handy starting point for someone used to Matlab/Octave to get into NumpPy/Scipy.

Plotting is done using the matplotlib library. The website contains documentation as well as a large gallery of examples.

The SciPy website also has a lot of examples in their Cookbook. Topical ones include

The department also maintains a small cookbook notebook.

Thermo-Physical Properties of Materials

Have a look at CoolProp. It is a thermo-physical property database with properties of many common pure substances. It has a python package as well as an Excel add-in.

Symbolic computing

The sympy module is a very capable symbolic module for Python. It plays well with the IPython notebook