What did Python ever do for us?

By Eleanor Oldham, Senior Geophysicist 

There’s no denying that knowledge of a programming language is a useful skill to have as we move towards an ever increasingly digital workplace. It signifies freedom to break away from software constraints by providing a platform where you can create your own processes. There are many different programming languages to choose from, but Python is generally held to have the most widespread appeal. It is also considered the most intuitive to learn and is well supported by a large online community.

The Python programming language was developed in the late 1980s by Dutchman, Guido van Rossum and was named after Monte Python’s Flying Circus. The aim of Python was to make code quick to write and easy to read without compromising on performance. This makes it an ideal language for beginners and power-users alike.

Personally, I decided to learn Python as a tool for data analysis. I started out by taking some free online courses to learn the basics of the Python programming language and then found myself diving into machine learning and neural networks. These techniques are hot topics in geoscience at the moment and I was eager to learn how I could apply them. Having access to structured online courses helped me to build my confidence and gain a broad understanding of the possibilities offered by Python. To consolidate my skills, I carried out various projects using free, publicly available datasets. Then, once I’d built up sufficient confidence, I began using my Python knowledge to develop a bespoke, probabilistic resources calculator for Merlin.

If you’ve ever thought ”I wish I could just…” but been hampered by software limitations, then you’ll appreciate the value of learning a programming language. The elegant simplicity of Python means it’s one of the easiest languages to learn whilst also being an extremely powerful tool.

At Merlin, we are using Python to tailor our own programs for data and text analysis. For example, our Keywise service has been developed using machine learning to extract keywords from files in any data structure. This enables unstructured data archives to be transformed into searchable databases. Please get in touch to find out how Keywise can be used to solve your data frustration or for more information on Python programming for geoscience.

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