Tag Archives: Books

Python Interviews Excerpt: Sebastian Raschka

The following is an excerpt from my book, Python Interviews

Sebastian Raschka received his doctorate in Quantitative Biology and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2017, from Michigan State University. Sebastian is the bestselling author of Python Machine Learning, which received the ACM Best of Computing award in 2016.

Driscoll: Python is one of the languages that is being used in AI and machine learning right now. Could you explain what makes it so popular?

Raschka: I think there are two main reasons, which are very related. The first reason is that Python is super easy to read and learn.

I would argue that most people working in machine learning and AI want to focus on trying out their ideas in the most convenient way possible. The focus is on research and applications, and programming is just a tool to get you there. The more comfortable a programming language is to learn, the lower the entry barrier is for more math and stats-oriented people.

Python is also super readable, which helps with keeping up-to-date with the status quo in machine learning and AI, for example when reading through code implementations of algorithms and ideas. Trying new ideas in AI and machine learning often requires implementing relatively sophisticated algorithms and the more transparent the language, the easier it is to debug.

The second main reason is that while Python is an easy language itself, we have a lot of great libraries on top of it that make our work easier. Nobody would like to spend their time on reimplementing basic algorithms from scratch (except in the context of studying machine learning and AI). The large number of Python libraries which exist, help us to focus on more exciting things than reinventing the wheel.

By the way, Python is also an excellent wrapper language for working with more efficient C/C++ implementations and CUDA/cuDNN, which is why existing machine learning and deep learning libraries run very efficiently in Python. This is also super important for working in the fields of machine learning and AI.

To summarize, I would say that Python is a great language that lets researchers and practitioners focus on machine learning and AI and provides less of a distraction than other languages.

Driscoll: So is Python just the right tool at the right time, or is there another reason that it’s become so important in AI and machine learning?

Raschka: I think that’s a bit of a chicken or the egg problem.

To untangle it, I would say that Python is convenient to use, which led to its wide adoption. The community has developed many useful packages in the context of scientific computing. Many machine learning and AI developers prefer Python as a general programming language for scientific computing and they have developed libraries on top of it, like Theano, MXNet, TensorFlow and PyTorch.

On an interesting side note, having been active in the machine learning and deep learning communities, there was one thing that I heard very often: “The Torch library is awesome, but it is written in Lua and I don’t want to spend my time learning yet another language.” Note that we have PyTorch now.

Read the rest interview in the book. You can get 40% off when purchasing from Packt’s website by using the following code: PIMD40. This code is good until March 16th, 2018.

ReportLab Book Kickstarter’s – 2 Days Left

There is only a little over 2 days left for my ReportLab book Kickstarter. This is your only chance to purchase a signed copy of the book and it’s also probably the cheapest way of getting the eBooks too!

I currently have 7 chapters done with number 8 nearing completion. There are over 170 pages in these chapters alone. I hope you’ll check it out as ReportLab is a fun way to use Python to design dynamic reports in a PDF format.

ReportLab Book Cover Story

I really like coming up with fun covers for my books. I also like to find new artists for each book so that they all end up looking unique. I do plan to re-use one or two artists at some point though.

Anyway, for the ReportLab book I happened to stumble across Therese Larsson’s website and I really liked how she did her lighting in her artwork. She is from Sweden and has worked with some fairly big companies, including Disney, Google, and Adidas. You can read more about her on Behance.

I ended up commissioning the cover from her and I described what I wanted. Here is the initial sketch:

ReportLab Cover Sketch

Continue reading ReportLab Book Cover Story

Pre-Order Python Interviews

I am happy to announce another book that I have been working on called Python Interviews from Packt Publishing. Here is the blurb from their website:

Python Interviews contains a series of one-to-one interviews between Mike Driscoll and a variety of leading figures in the Python community. Mike is a life-long member of the Python community and has been running ‘PyDev of the Week’ interviews with the cream of the Python community for many years from his blog, Mouse vs. Python.

In this book, Mike talks Python with core members of the Python community, such as Steve Holden (former chair of the Python Software Foundation), Mike Bayer (creator of SQLAlchemy), Brett Cannon (core Python developer), Glyph Lefkowitz (creator of Twisted), Massimo DiPierro (creator of web2py), Oliver Schoenborn (creator of PyPubSub), and many, many more. The interviews are full of insights into the minds of successful programmers, the inner workings of the Python language, the history of Python, and humorous anecdotes from the thriving Python community.

Python Interviews is currently available for pre-order and should be published in late February 2018 or March 2018.

Note: These are brand new interviews and are not taken from my “PyDev of the Week” series. However there is some cross-over in this book to those interviews since some of the same topics were covered.

Back to School Python Book Sale 2017

It’s time for school and going back to the university, so I am putting on a “Back to School” sale for my Python books. You can now buy my second and third books for 50% off on Leanpub.

You can check out my first book, Python 101, in its entirety over on http://python101.pythonlibrary.org/ if you need a sample of my writing style. Leanpub also has samples of both of those books that you can download as a PDF.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments or ping me via the contact form.

ANN: Python 101 Website

After making my first book, Python 101, freely available, I have been investigating the best way to make its contents available online as well. Since I write all my books in RestructuredText, I had a few options. I ended up going with Sphinx for now, but I may end up switching to something else in the future.

Sphinx is the documentation tool used by the Python language for their documentation and it is also the backbone of Read the Docs, which is a website of documentation for 3rd party Python packages. I tried the default Sphinx theme of Alabaster, but it didn’t have the two features I most wanted:

  • Mobile friendly
  • Next / Previous buttons to make chapter navigation easy

Or at least it didn’t appear to be easy to modify to make these features available. So I ended up switching to the Read the Docs theme as it had both of those features. You can check out the book at the following URL:

http://python101.pythonlibrary.org

Python 201 is Now an Online Course

My second book, Python 201: Intermediate Python, was just released as an online course over at Educative. I also have Python 101 on there as well. Educative is a pretty new educational website. It’s kind of like Code Academy except that they usually charge for access to all their courses.

Note: This is NOT a video course!

Anyway, they were kind enough to provide me with a 50% off coupon to share with anyone on Reddit. Here it is: au-py201-50. Note: This coupon code is only good for 1 week.

If you haven’t heard of my second book, then you’ll find a really good table of contents and some free content on Educative. You can also see the book’s table of contents on Leanpub here: https://leanpub.com/python201/

wxPython Cookbook Artist Interview: Liza Tretyakova

I always put a lot of thought into the covers of my book. For my first book on wxPython, I thought it would be fun to do a cookbook because I already had a lot of recipes on my blog. So I went with the idea of doing a cookbook. For the cover, my first thought was to have some kind of kitchen scene with mice cooks. Then I decided that was too obvious and decided to go with the idea of an Old West cover with cowboy (or cow mice) cooking at a fire.

I asked Liza Tretyakova, my cover artist for wxPython Cookbook, to do a quick interview about herself. Here is what she had to say:

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):

My name is Liza Tretyakova, I’m a free-lance illustrator currently working in Moscow.

Education:

  • Moscow State University, Faculty of History of Arts
  • BA(Hons) Illustration, University of Plymouth


I work as an illustrator for about 10 years. I love horses and I used to have a horse. Also I’m interested in archery. I like reading and spending a lot of time with my daughter Yara, who is 7 years old.

What motivated you to be an illustrator versus some other profession?

Since I was a child I have been drawing all the time and it just happened that I started to work as an illustrator, it turned into a profession.

What process do you go through when you are creating a new piece of art?

It is different every time, there is no specific “recipe” 🙂

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to be an illustrator?

You should try to draw every day, the more the better.

Do you have anything else you would like to say?

It was a pleasure working with you!

Thanks so much for doing the interview and for agreeing to be my illustrator for my wxPython Cookbook.

You can see more of Liza’s work on Behance.

wxPython Cookbook is Officially Released!

I recently finished up Mmy third book, wxPython Cookbook and I am officially releasing it today. My wxPython Cookbook is my longest book yet, clocking in at over 340 pages and over 50 recipes. I have a full table of contents on Leanpub for anyone who is interested in the nitty gritty details.

Here are the current places that you can get a copy of the book:

Thanks so much to all my readers and Kickstarter backers who have encouraged me throughout the writing process.

Holiday Sale on Python Books

It’s the holiday season so I am putting all my books on sale starting today. The sale will run through December 23rd. You can purchase any of my books for $6.99 on Gumroad or Leanpub. I’m actually recommending Leanpub now as I find its user interface much easier to navigate for my readers, but if you already have a Gumroad account, then feel free to use that.

You will receive the books in PDF, mobi and epub from both Leanpub and Gumroad.

Here are the links:

Gumroad

Leanpub

Softcover editions

I have 10 more copies of the first run of Python 201: Intermediate Python that you can now purchase. You will also receive the digital versions of the book. Note that the first run had a mistake in the asyncio chapter that has been rectified in the digital copies. The future versions of the paperback will be fixed soon.