Microsoft: DAT208x Introduction to Python for Data Science – COMPLETED

Today I completed the self paced EdX class Microsoft: DAT208x Introduction to Python for Data Science. My last push included Module 6, the intriguingly titled “Control flow and Pandas” followed by an accidental completion of the final exam. More about that later. I finished the audit track of the course with 91%. I could have purchased a Verified Certificate from EdX for $49.00, but I haven’t seen the EdX certificate used much in the job market. I know what I learned and that’s enough for now.

Enough of housekeeping and celebration. Let’s talk about Module 6, “Control flow and Pandas” Control flow was a presentation on Booleans (which most librarians really ought to know in their sleep) and if-then statements. The syntax for if then is a bit different in Python than in other programming languages that I’ve been exposed to, but still familiar.


Pandas turns out to stand for Python Data Analysis. It is a set of tools that allow you to work on arrays that have different data types. It lets you import files – either on your computer or by URL. Once important, you can specific rows and columns by name. It seemed very handy, though I need to read up on it some more and especially practice using it.

After I completed Module 6, I thought I’d take a look at what the final exam looked like. I might be wrong, but when I entered the final exam I seemed to be put into a “this is your one chance to take the final – you have four hours total to complete the problems” page. I didn’t immediate see a graceful way out, so I basically took the final cold.  It was a mix of question types and you had four minutes to answer a given question before you moved on to the next. A couple stumped me outright, but I was able to provide some kind of answer for all but a few and I wound up with an 82% on the final. Not fantastic, but pretty good for taking it cold. Averaged with my quizzes and practice labs I wound up with 91%, so I’m not looking for a retake.

While the course did try to sell you a $29/mo subscription to Datacamp at the end of Every. Single. Exercise, I still recommend this course to others. It’s a great way to get your feet wet both in python and the beginnings of data analysis.

My next step, that I hope to take tomorrow, is to download and install Python, Numpy, Matplotlib and Pandas on my laptop. I’ll also bookmark documentation. Then have a look at a public dataset, probably library related and see what I can do with it.

In the longer term, I should do some reading up on data science. I’ve had a number of reading recommendations from people, so it’s just a matter of picking something up and working through it.

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