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Guess I'm going to have to give in and learn a language

  1. Jun 5, 2010 #1
    I'm a junior physics major/math minor. I don't have any programming knowledge whatsoever. I'd rather not hassle with learning it, but I know it's a prerequisite if I want to do any research or engineering job. What should I learn? No more than I should and no less than would be prudent.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 6, 2010 #2
    Matlab, if you consider it a language.
    Fortran has been used for quite some time, in fact if, memory serves right, people at CERN program Fortran but I don't exactly know the status of the Fortran development scene.
    You could also learn C/C++ if you are going to be writing processing intensive programs, plus there is a lot of libraries written for them.
    These are just a few things from the top of my mind.

    Can you be clear what is it you are expecting to program?
  4. Jun 6, 2010 #3
    I have no idea whatsoever. If I remember correctly, my vector analysis professor last semester said I should learn at least C. I could be mistaken though.
  5. Jun 6, 2010 #4


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    Python is a very good first language for someone who doesn't have programming experience. It's not exactly the most popular language out there for scientific work, but there are excellent libraries available for doing calculations and simulations in Python (SciPy/NumPy for instance), and besides it'll give you a good foundation on which to learn C, which is probably the most practically useful language to learn.

    Matlab actually wouldn't be a bad start, it does have some similarities to Python (or vice-versa, if you like).
  6. Jun 6, 2010 #5
    I think I started to look at Python a couple years ago, but I didn't get anywhere with it. Is there a good book out there for it?
  7. Jun 7, 2010 #6
    Since you're starting off with no programming knowledge, I would probably suggest a book like Mark Lutz's Learning Python. I learned Python using Alex Martelli's Python in a Nutshell and David Beazley's Python Essential Reference, but I already had programming experience in C, Java, and MATLAB.
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