Free Python course: NSA shares its material for beginners

Python. Despite the fact that it is 30 years old, the language is going through a fabulous moment of popularity, and the educational material on the Web has multiplied, with thousands of experts sharing their experiences almost daily. However, programmer Chris Swenson (better known as “Cupcake” on Twitter) preferred to follow another path: Under the so-called “Freedom of Information Act”, he asked the NSA to publish all his Python-related training material. Want to program like a secret agent? Now you can.

If someone asks for a recommendation about a programming language to learn in the short and medium term, they will most likely receive a lot of conflicting information (since every programmer likes to defend the environment in which they feel most comfortable), but if there are three that rank higher than the rest, they are JavaScript, Java and Python.

And the material available is… impressive. For example, you can learn the essence of JavaScript in less than 15 minutes, practice with more than a dozen languages online, or learn to program by playing games. No matter your level, there will always be someone out there willing to help. Now, the truth is that all these solutions are strictly personal, self-directed. What happens when a company or government agency has to train new staff?

Thanks to the request of programmer Chris “Cupcake” Swenson, we can find out today. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) enables all U.S. citizens to obtain federal information. Of course, governments do not always comply with the FOIA or only partially, but Swenson’s request does not create a security conflict: Access to NSA Python training materials.

Swenson admits that he did so out of pure curiosity, and he did not expect too much of a response, but what he received in return was a copy of the official COMP 3321 course, which runs to almost 400 pages. The course is especially oriented to beginners, and mentions that “if you don’t know any language yet, Python is a good place to start”.

The text includes a quick introduction, words from its creator Guido van Rossum, the potential applications of a language like Python, and details about its growing popularity. In addition, the NSA itself suggests that the course can be completed in a full two-week block, or split up to create a more friendly and relaxed pace.

Are you interested and do you know some English? Then you know what to do: Visit and download the PDF. Swenson mentions that the agency decided to hold back some materials, and will try to get it through new FOIA requests, but he feels that the initial response was good, and that he can’t be disappointed to receive 400 pages of pre-rated content.

Download the PDF:

Source: ZDNet →


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