Plotting and Programming with Python

QCIF online workshop

March 15-18, 2021

9:00am - 12:30pm

Instructors: Sam Hames, Jason Bell, Kasia Koziara, Dag Evensberget

Helpers: Toan Phung, Jane Tan, Stéphane Guillou, Shern Tee, David Green, Marlies Hankel

General Information

Software Carpentry aims to help researchers get their work done in less time and with less pain by teaching them basic research computing skills. This hands-on workshop will cover basic concepts and tools, including program design, version control, data management, and task automation. Participants will be encouraged to help one another and to apply what they have learned to their own research problems.

For more information on what we teach and why, please see our paper "Best Practices for Scientific Computing".

Who: The course is aimed at graduate students and other researchers. You don't need to have any previous knowledge of the tools that will be presented at the workshop.

Where: Virtual workshop taught over Zoom

When: March 15-18, 2021. Add to your Google Calendar.

Requirements: Participants must provide their own computer with a Mac, Linux, or Windows operating system (not a tablet, Chromebook, etc.) and have access to a stable internet connection sufficient for videoconferencing. They should have a few specific software packages installed (listed below).

Contact: Please email for more information.

Code of Conduct

Everyone who participates in Carpentries activities is required to conform to the Code of Conduct.This document also outlines how to report an incident if needed.


Please be sure to complete these surveys before and after the workshop.

Pre-workshop Survey

Post-workshop Survey


Session 1

09:00 Variables and assignment
09:45 Data types and data conversion
10:30 Coffee
10:45 Built-in functions and help
12:00 Libraries
12:30 End

Session 2

09:00 Reading tabular data into dataframes
10:00 Pandas dataframes
10:30 Coffee
10:45 Plotting
12:30 End

Session 3

09:00 Lists
09:45 For loops
10:30 Coffee
10:45 Conditionals
11:45 Looping over data sets
12:30 End

Session 4

09:00 Writing functions
10:30 Coffee
10:45 Variable scope
12:00 Good programming style
12:20 Wrap-up
12:30 END


Plotting and Programming in Python

  • Variables, Assignment, Data Types, Type Conversion, Built-in Functions and Help
  • Libraries, Reading Tabular Data into DataFrames, Pandas DataFrames, Plotting
  • Lists, For Loops, Looping Over Data Sets
  • Writing Functions
  • Variable Scope
  • Conditionals
  • Programming Style
  • Reference...


To participate in a Software Carpentry workshop, you will need to provide your own computer with reliable internet connection. In addition, you will need access to the software described below and an up-to-date web browser.

We maintain a list of common issues that occur during installation as a reference for instructors that may be useful on the Configuration Problems and Solutions wiki page.


Python is a popular language for research computing, and great for general-purpose programming as well. Installing all of its research packages individually can be a bit difficult, so we recommend Anaconda, an all-in-one installer.

Regardless of how you choose to install it, please make sure you install Python version 3.x (e.g., 3.6 is fine).

We will teach Python using the Jupyter Notebook, a programming environment that runs in a web browser (Jupyter Notebook will be installed by Anaconda). For this to work you will need a reasonably up-to-date browser. The current versions of the Chrome, Safari and Firefox browsers are all supported (some older browsers, including Internet Explorer version 9 and below, are not).

Video Tutorial
  1. Open with your web browser.
  2. Download the Anaconda for Windows installer with Python 3. (If you are not sure which version to choose, you probably want the 64-bit Graphical Installer Anaconda3-...-Windows-x86_64.exe)
  3. Install Python 3 by running the Anaconda Installer, using all of the defaults for installation except make sure to check Add Anaconda to my PATH environment variable.
  1. Open with your web browser.
  2. Download the Anaconda Installer with Python 3 for Linux.
    (The installation requires using the shell. If you aren't comfortable doing the installation yourself stop here and request help at the workshop.)
  3. Open a terminal window and navigate to the directory where the executable is downloaded (e.g., `cd ~/Downloads`).
  4. Type
    bash Anaconda3-
    and then press Tab to autocomplete the full file name. The name of file you just downloaded should appear.
  5. Press Enter. You will follow the text-only prompts. To move through the text, press Spacebar. Type yes and press enter to approve the license. Press Enter to approve the default location for the files. Type yes and press Enter to prepend Anaconda to your PATH (this makes the Anaconda distribution the default Python).
  6. Close the terminal window.