Advanced Python Programming Winter 2021

Course Description

Python is a general-purpose programming language that is used in many application areas, including data science, machine learning/AI, web development, scientific computing, graphical user interfaces, systems programming, gaming, rapid prototyping, and more. This course provides a thorough overview of the Python 3 language with an emphasis on writing idiomatic code in Python and object-oriented design patterns and is suitable for students with some prior programming experience. We will develop an understanding of the core features of the languages and gain exposure to commonly used standard-library and third-party modules.

The following information below about the course is subject to change.

Course Staff


Lorena Mesa
Pronouns: she/her
Email: but please contact on Ed Discussion
Office: Remote for the Quarter
Office hours: Wednesday from 5:30pm - 7:30pm CT. Please sign up on Ed Discussion.


Christopher Ward
Pronouns: he/him
Email: but please contact on Ed Discussion
Office hours: Saturday from 2:30pm - 4:30pm CT



Course Information

Lectures Online videos will be posted on Thursday evenings
Discussions Monday 5:30pm ~ 7:30pm, (Zoom meetings), see Canvas Calendar for Zoom meetings.
Communication All forms of communication such as important class announcements, general discussion, course material, etc. will be done on Ed Discussion.

As our content is done remotely for Spring 2021 quarte, it is crucial that you regulary check Ed Discussion. You are required to check it at least twice a day! Ed Discussion is also the best place to get help quickly. Christopher and I will monitor Ed Disuycssion as frequently as possible and aspire to answer within 24 hours. Students are encouraged to help their peers on Ed Discussion by contributing when it is convenient.

Textbook While there are no required textbooks for this course, the following books may be useful for reference:

  • Learning Python, by Mark Lutz (Main text)
  • Think Python: How to Think Like a Computer Scientist , by Allen B. Downey
  • The Hitchhikers Guide to Python, by Kenneth Reitz & Tanya Schlusser
  • Fluent Python, by Luciano Ramalho
  • Python Cookbook: Recipes for Mastering Python 3
  • Python Essential Reference, by David Beazley
Course Software Python 3.8: We'll be using Use the Python installation provided in the CS department's virtual environment which can also can be accessed via SSH at


Interactive Developer Environment: Visual Studio Code (suggestion, not required):

Alternatively, another Interactive Developer Environment: PyCharm (suggestion, not required):

Getting Help The Canvas website has office hours posted with the Zoom link for the instructor and TA. You should sign up in advance on Ed Dicussion if you are seeking, more detailed hands on help. Please note, that the instructor and TA will within reason assist on tech problems but we are advising for this class students use the CS department's provided virtual environment (or can be accessed via SSH at
The pace of this course is rapid,
so use office hours with the instructor and TA as well as engage with questions on Ed Discussion if you feel you're falling behind or need help.

Course Content

Topics that will be explored in the course will include (but not limited to) the following:

A detailed description of when each topic will be discussed is on the course schedule page.

Course Content Distribution (Spring 2021)

Following the University's remote learning plans, the course lectures will be provided in two ways:


The course will include weekly homework, final project, and one exam. The weekly homework will contain practice programming problems to help enforce the concepts learned via the course content sessions. Please look at the homework page to check the assigned and due dates for each assignments.

Late submissions

All students may use up to two 24-hour extensions for the programming assignments during the quarter. These extensions are all-or-nothing: you cannot use a portion of an extension and have the rest “carry over” to another extension. To use an extension, the student must fill out the extension request for a homework here before the assignment is due. For each 24 hours after the homework is due and an extension is requested, a full letter grade will be docked from the assignment. If extraordinary circumstances (illness, family emergency, etc.) prevent a student from meeting a deadline, the student must inform their instructor before the deadline. Please note that having a heavy workload in a given week does not qualify as an extraordinary circumstance. The purpose of the two extensions is precisely to give you some flexibility in weeks when you are busier than usual.


We sometimes make mistakes, and are happy to review any grading decision that you feel is unfair or unjustified. However, it is also your responsibility to make these requests in a timely manner. Requests for regrades must be submitted no later than one week after a graded piece of work is returned to you by filling out the regrade form here. After that time, we will not consider any requests for regrades, regardless of whether the regrade request is reasonable and justified.

Process of Submitting a Regrade Request
  1. Fill out the regrade form here.
  2. Make sure to submit within 1 week of graded assignment being returned to you
  3. To check on the status of a regrade, you can open a private thread for the instructors on Ed Discussion
Please note that there is no timeline for processing regrade requests. However, your regrade request will be handled before the end of the quarter.

NOTE : The assigned and due dates for homework and projects are subject to change with notice.

Grade Evaluation

The final grade is determined as follows:
Homework 75%
Final Project 25%

Grading Scale

Grades are not curved in this class. The following is set of grading boundaries for this course:


Academic Honesty

You must adhere to The University of Chicago and the Masters Program in Computer Science policy on academic honesty: The universitys' and programs' rules have the final say in all cases, but the following rules of thumb summarize honesty as it pertains to this course:

To expand on the second rule, sharing completed or partially completed work in advance of its deadline in any way, including posting to the Internet, is expressly forbidden. We take academic honestly seriously and dishonest behavior will result in serious consequences.

Zoom guidelines

We will be using Zoom in this class. We expect your interactions via Zoom to be consistent with an in-person class experience. Respect the people you’re working with. Enter the Zoom meetings muted if possible (unfortunately, it will not be possible if you’re calling in), and unmute to speak. Raise your hand if you’d like to speak. [There’s a “Raise Hand” button on the participant page.] If your background is unusually noisy, use the chat channel instead of unmuting. We strongly encourage you to have your camera on during our Zoom sessions, but we’ll understand if some of you prefer to keep your video off.

Note that you can set your name in your Zoom profile, so you don’t have to go with whatever was assigned. We encourage you to include your pronouns in your name (if so, please include them after your last name).

Our Zoom class meetings will be recorded and saved to the cloud to allow students in this class to review the discussion, and especially to allow students who can’t participate the opportunity to benefit from class. We will not make these recordings available to anyone but class participants, we will not make them available after the quarter, and students will not be allowed to save copies. However, we have no way to guarantee that students will follow this policy. If you have FERPA concerns, please mask yourself accordingly, e.g., by turning off video and using an alias.

Diversity statement

The University of Chicago is committed to diversity and rigorous inquiry that arises from multiple perspectives. We concur with that commitment and also believe that we have the highest quality interactions and can creatively solve more problems when we recognize and share our diversity. We thus expect to maintain a productive learning environment based upon open communication, mutual respect, and non-discrimination. We view the diversity that students bring to this class as a resource, strength and benefit. It is our intent to present materials and activities that are respectful of diversity: gender, sexuality, disability, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, religious background, and immigration status. Any suggestions as to how to further such a positive and open environment in the class will be appreciated and given serious consideration. If you have a preferred name different from what appears on the class roster, or preferred gender pronouns you would like us to use, please let us know.


The University of Chicago is committed to ensuring equitable access to our academic programs and services. Students with disabilities who have been approved for the use of academic accommodations by​ ​Student Disability Services​ ​(SDS) and need a reasonable accommodation(s) to participate fully in this course should follow the procedures established by SDS for using accommodations. Timely notifications are required in order to ensure that your accommodations can be implemented. Please meet with me to discuss your access needs in this class after you have completed the SDS procedures for requesting accommodations.

Phone: (773) 702-6000
Email: ​

COVID-19 Policies

UChicago Health Pact

All students on campus are required to adhere to the guidelines in the UChicago Health Pact in order to promote a safe environment in the classroom.

Reporting COVID-19 Related Concerns

Any concerns over inappropriate PPE usage, physical distancing, cleaning/disinfection, or other COVID-19 related public health concerns should be directed to​ ​UCAIR​. If there is an emergency, call 773-702-8181 or dial 123 on any campus phone.

Reporting COVID-19 Exposure or a Confirmed Case

If you were potentially exposed to COVID-19 or your COVID-19 test results come back positive, reach out immediately to​ ​​.

Recording and Deletion Policies for Academic Year 2020-1

The Recording and Deletion Policies for the current academic year can be found in the Student Manual under ​ ​Petitions, Audio & Video Recording on Campus.


Students who have been exposed to or who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact​ ​UChicago Student Wellness​ ​immediately to be tested, and reach out to their area Dean of Students to request accommodations for classes until:


Big thanks to the oiginal author J. Alex Halderman, for allowing me to adapt his web site design for this course as well as Lamont Samuels.