Didn’t study on Thursday, so playing catch up on my courses. Still haven’t gotten things rolling with Algorithms: Part 1 or Machine Learning, which means this weekend (and next week) will be rough! This reminds me of being back at University except, instead of balancing a social calendar, volunteering or work-study, I’m balancing “adult life” (in my world) aka being newly married, career choices and freelancing. As always - it’s a balancing act.

Learn to Program: The Fundamentals is not an active Coursera course, which means I’ve signed up for the course and can run through all the videos and exercises, but I will not be given a certificate. I’m okay with this. However, if you’re considering taking a Coursera course and want to obtain a certificate of accomplishment, you’ll want to make sure the course is active and you have sufficient time to complete all assignments before their respective deadlines. On the bright-side, if you don’t care about the certificate of accomplishment, you can sign up for any course (whether current or historic) and get results on most assignments and exams. It’s a fantastic system.

Now let’s jump into the course

Lean to Program: The Fundamentals uses Python as the course programming language and IDLE as the programming environment. I believe this is done because it’s quick to grasp and you don’t need a lot of background knowledge to get started. I’m finding it easier to pick up than Java was when I initially checked it out.

Notes from Week 1


  • def :  a keyword indicating a function definition.
  • return : a keyword indicating the result of a function.
  • parameter : a variable that appears between the parentheses of a function definition. Parameters get their values from expressions in a function call.
  • function calls : they’re expressions


Function :

def function_name(parameters - comma separated):
body (typically includes or ends in a return statement)

Function calls :



Rules for Executing a Return Statement

  • evaluate the expression, which produces a value.
  • produce that value as the result of the function call.

Rules for Executing an Assignment Statement

  • evaluate the expression on the right on the = sign to produce a value.
  • store the memory address of the value in the variable on the left of the = sign.

Rules for Executing a Function Call

  • evaluate the arguments to produce memory addresses.
  • store those memory addresses in the corresponding parameters.
  • execute the body of the function.

If you ever need help or unsure of what a function call does (ex: “max”), you can type in “help(max)” into your command line (directly following the three red arrows pointing right, >>>). This will bring up the definition of “max” and let you know what it does, how many arguments it can run with and what you’ll get back (what the function will return) once executed.

Above are notes I’ve taken to keep track of the material covered in the Learn to Program: The Fundamentals course I am taking on Coursera. Notes are derived from week-based video lectures and supplemental information I’ve found online to help clarify certain concepts. If you are taking this course, most of the information below will be found in Week 1 associated material. If you are not taking the course, I hope you find the information below helpful in your search