Guido van Rossum: Computer Programming for Everybody

This is the revised text of a funding proposal that we sent
to DARPA in August 1999. In March, we heard that at least an
earlier version of the proposal was accepted by DARPA; the work
will begin late 1999 and last two years. The funding is enough for
1.5 full-time equivalents. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for
the full proposal…

“The two major research goals are the development of a prototype
of a new programming curriculum and matching prototype software
comprising a highly user-friendly programming environment. We
envision that the typical target audience will consist of high
school and (non-CS major) undergraduate college students, although
younger students and adults will also be considered. Course and
software will normally be used together, so they should be tightly
tuned to each other; each will also be usable on its own…”

“We plan to start by basing both components on Python, a popular
free interpreted object-oriented language [Python] [Lutz]
[Watters]. Originally developed at CWI in Amsterdam, Python is
currently being developed and maintained by CNRI. Python is
extremely suitable for teaching purposes, without being a “toy”
language: it is very popular with computer professionals as a rapid
application development language. Python combines elements from
several major programming paradigms (procedural, functional and
object-oriented) with an elegant syntax that is easy on the eyes
and easy to learn and use. While we believe that Python is a good
starting point, undoubtedly we will learn that improvements are
possible. As part of our research, we will evaluate the
effectiveness of Python for education and use by beginners, and
design improvements or alternatives.”