Python Data Structures and Algorithms

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Python Data Structures and Algorithms by Benjamin Baka

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A knowledge of data structures and the algorithms that bring them to life is the key to building successful data applications. With this knowledge, we have a powerful way to unlock the secrets buried in large amounts of data. This skill is becoming more important in a data-saturated world, where the amount of data being produced dwarfs our ability to analyze it. In this book, you will learn the essential Python data structures and the most common algorithms. This book will provide basic knowledge of Python and an insight into the exciting world of data algorithms. We will look at algorithms that provide solutions to the most common problems in data analysis, including sorting and searching data, as well as being able to extract important statistics from data. With this easy-to-read book, you will learn how to create complex data structures such as linked lists, stacks, and queues, as well as sorting algorithms such as bubble sort and insertion sort. You will learn the common techniques and structures used in tasks such as preprocessing, modeling, and transforming data. We will also discuss how to organize your code in a manageable, consistent, and extendable way. You will learn how to build components that are easy to understand, debug, and use in different applications.


A good understanding of data structures and algorithms cannot be overemphasized. It is an important arsenal to have in being able to understand new problems and find elegant solutions to them. By gaining a deeper understanding of algorithms and data structures, you may find uses for them in many more ways than originally intended. You will develop a consideration for the code you write and how it affects the amount of memory and CPU cycles to say the least. Code will not be written for the sake of it, but rather with a mindset to do more using minimal resources. When programs that have been thoroughly analyzed and scrutinized are used in a real-life setting, the performance is a delight to experience. Sloppy code is always a recipe for poor performance. Whether you like algorithms purely from the standpoint of them being an intellectual exercise or them serving as a source of inspiration in solving a problem, it is an engagement worthy of pursuit.


The Python language has further opened the door for many professionals and students to come to appreciate programming. The language is fun to work with and concise in its description of problems. We leverage the language's mass appeal to examine a number of widely studied and standardized data structures and algorithms. The book begins with a concise tour of the Python programming language. As such, it is not required that you know Python before picking up this book.


What this book covers

Chapter 1, Python Objects, Types, and Expressions, introduces you to the basic types and objects of Python. We will give an overview of the language features, execution environment, and programming styles. We will also review the common programming techniques and language functionality.

Chapter 2, Python Data Types and Structures, explains each of the five numeric and five sequence data types, as well as one mapping and two set data types, and examine the operations and expressions applicable to each type. We will also give examples of typical use cases.

Chapter 3, Principles of Algorithm Design, covers how we can build additional structures with specific capabilities using the existing Python data structures. In general, the data structures we create need to conform to a number of principles. These principles include robustness, adaptability, reusability, and separating the structure from a function. We look at the role iteration plays and introduce recursive data structures.

Chapter 4, Lists and Pointer Structures, covers linked lists, which are one of the most common data structures and are often used to implement other structures, such as stacks and queues. In this chapter, we describe their operation and implementation. We compare their behavior to arrays and discuss the relative advantages and disadvantages of each.

Chapter 5, Stacks and Queues, discusses the behavior and demonstrates some implementations of these linear data structures. We give examples of typical applications.

Chapter 6, Trees, will look at how to implement a binary tree. Trees form the basis of many of the most important advanced data structures. We will examine how to traverse trees and retrieve and insert values. We will also look at how to create structures such as heaps.

Chapter 7, Hashing and Symbol Tables, describes symbol tables, gives some typical implementations, and discusses various applications. We will look at the process of hashing, give an implementation of a hash table, and discuss the various design considerations.

Chapter 8, Graphs and Other Algorithms, looks at some of the more specialized structures, including graphs and spatial structures. Representing data as a set of nodes and vertices is convenient in a number of applications, and from this, we can create structures such as directed and undirected graphs. We will also introduce some other structures and concepts such as priority queues, heaps, and selection algorithms.

Chapter 9, Searching, discusses the most common searching algorithms and gives examples of their use for various data structures. Searching a data structure is a fundamental task and there are a number of approaches.

Chapter 10, Sorting, looks at the most common approaches to sorting. This will include bubble sort, insertion sort, and selection sort.

Chapter 11, Selection Algorithms, covers algorithms that involve finding statistics, such as the minimum, maximum, or median elements in a list. There are a number of approaches and one of the most common approaches is to first apply a sort operation. Other approaches include partition and linear selection.

Chapter 12, Design Techniques and Strategies, relates to how we look for solutions for similar problems when we are trying to solve a new problem. Understanding how we can classify algorithms and the types of problem that they most naturally solve is a key aspect of algorithm design. There are many ways in which we can classify algorithms, but the most useful classifications tend to revolve around either the implementation method or the design method.

Chapter 13, Implementations, Applications, and Tools, discusses a variety of real-world applications. These include data analysis, machine learning, prediction, and visualization. In addition, there are libraries and tools that make our work with algorithms more productive and enjoyable.


Who this book is for

This book would appeal to Python developers. Basic knowledge of Python is preferred but is not a requirement. No previous knowledge of computer concepts is assumed. Most of the concepts are explained with everyday scenarios to make it very easy to understand.


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