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What Is Python Used For?

Sigma School
16th February 2024

With so many programming languages in use, professional and aspiring developers often find themselves in a fix when deciding which language to focus on to direct their careers.

Let’s take a closer look at what Python is, what it can do, and how you can start learning it.

What is Python?

Python, a programming language, is commonly utilized for website and software development, task automation, and data analysis. It is a versatile language suitable for creating a variety of programs, not limited to specific purposes, which contributes to its widespread adoption. Python's user-friendly nature has further enhanced its popularity, making it one of the most utilized programming languages today.

According to Stack Overflow's 2023 Developer Survey, Python ranks as the third most popular programming language. Survey participants reported using Python for nearly half of their development tasks. 

Stack Overflow chart of most popular programming language

What is Python used for?

#1: Python for Task Automation/Scripting

Python serves as an excellent tool for developing programs that automate various repetitive tasks, a process commonly referred to as scripting. This scripting capability extends to handling files and directories, enabling tasks such as file creation, renaming, conversion, splitting, merging, deletion, error checking, duplicate detection, text pattern verification, and content updating. 

Additionally, Python automation facilitates internet information retrieval and downloading, online form completion and submission, and regular notification or email dispatch. Manual execution of these activities would prove tedious, time-consuming, and error-prone. 

Leveraging Python scripts, however, expedites these processes, enhancing efficiency and freeing up valuable time and energy for more innovative endeavors.


#2: Python for data-heavy academic research

An important factor contributing to Python's popularity is its open-source nature and free availability for commercial usage. Unlike oher software like MATLAB, Python offers unrestricted access for users to explore and utilize its capabilities without financial constraints. Luis Otavio Martins shared a story about how his friend was using MATLAB for research purposes. When he wanted to patent his work, he found out he needed to pay a lot of royalties to Mathworks. While not everyone is a researcher and you might not be looking to get a patent on anything, there are other professions for which data is as important. 

Now, you might not be a researcher, but there are tons of other jobs where data is a big deal. Think journalists who need facts to back up their stories or hospitals figuring out which meds work best for patients. So, if you're into research, Python is your new best friend. You can use it to gather, mess around with, visualize, and study data. Take Gregory Saxton, for instance. He was doing social media research and used Python to write some scripts. These scripts could grab tweets, change data into something readable, and even analyze language. Python makes research way easier!


#3: Python for web applications

Did you know that some major companies were created using Python? Check out this list:

Netflix web created using Python

  • Dropbox
  • Netflix
  • Spotify
  • Instagram
  • 21% of Facebook’s infrastructure codebase
  • Youtube

Python is often used to develop the back end of a website or application—the parts that a user doesn’t see. Python’s role in web development can include sending data to and from servers, processing data and communicating with databases, URL routing, and ensuring security. Python offers several frameworks for web development. Commonly used ones include Django and Flask.

Some web development jobs that use Python include back-end engineers, full-stack engineers, Python developers, software engineers, and DevOps engineers.


#4: Python for data science

Data science is one of the most popular uses for Python. Data scientists and analysts use programming languages like Python and R to manipulate data for reporting, predictive analysis, and more. But while R can be a great choice, many Data Scientists prefer to learn Python because its English-like syntax can be easier to learn. 

Harvesting insights from data is no easy task, and data scientists don’t have time to waste with compiling and complicated syntax. Python’s simple syntax and extensive selection of third-party libraries make it a great choice for anyone considering a career in data science.


#5: Python for machine learning & artificial intelligence (AI)

Because Python is such a stable, flexible, and simple programming language, it’s perfect for various machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) projects. In fact, Python is among the favourite languages among data scientists, and there are many Python machine learning and AI libraries and packages available. 

When it comes to machine learning, the ideas exchange platform, “Towards Data Science”, tells us that 57% of data scientists and machine learning developers utilise Python, with 33% prioritising it for development.

#6: Python for games

While Python is not as powerful as Unity when it comes to programming games, it allows you to build something fun with it!

It’s possible to create simple games using the programming language, which means it can be a useful tool for quickly developing a prototype. Similarly, certain functions (such as dialogue tree creation) are possible in Python. 


#7: Python for finance 

Python is increasingly being utilised in the world of finance, often in areas such as quantitative and qualitative analysis. It can be a valuable tool in determining asset price trends and predictions, as well as in automating workflows across different data sources.

As mentioned already, Python is an ideal tool for working with big data sets, and there are many libraries available to help with compiling and processing information. As such, it’s one of the preferred languages in the finance industry. 


#8: Python for SEO 

Another slightly surprising entry on our list of Python uses is in the field of search engine optimisation (SEO). It’s an area that often benefits from automation, which is certainly possible through Python. Whether it’s implementing changes across multiple pages or categorising keywords, Python can help. 

Emerging technologies such as natural language processing (NLP) are also likely to be relevant to those working in SEO. Python can be a powerful tool in developing these NLP skills and understanding how people search and how search engines return results. 

Why is Python so popular?

Python's popularity can be attributed to several factors, including:

  • A simple syntax that resembles natural language, making it easy to read, understand, and quickly build projects.
  • High versatility, as it can be used for various tasks such as web development and machine learning.
  • Suitability for beginners, making it a popular choice for those new to coding.
  • Open-source nature, allowing for free use and distribution, including for commercial purposes.
  • A vast and expanding archive of modules and libraries, created by third-party users to extend Python's capabilities.
  • A large and active community that contributes to the growth of Python's modules and libraries and provides support for other programmers. This community makes it easy to find solutions to problems, as many have likely encountered and solved similar issues before.

In summary, while there are many other programming languages, Python's simplicity, versatility, accessibility, and extensive community support contribute to its popularity among coders. There are many reasons why you might want to start learning Python. It’s a future-proof and in-demand skill that’s required across all kinds of industries. 

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