Book Review: Effective Python

Effective Python (disclaimer) contains 59 mini-lessons on python best practices. This book is not for programming novices but is great for advancing your python skill or as a reference if you’re moving to python from another language.

I see Effective Python as a compliment to Python for Data Analysis, the latter covering scientific and statistical uses where alternatives include MATLAB or R, and the former covering general software problems where python takes the place of Java or Ruby. Of course those two fields are not mutually exclusive, after reading Effective Python I have a better understanding of what’s going on (or should be going on) behind the scenes of the python libraries I use.

Book review: The Linux Command Line

The Linux Command Line: A Complete Introduction lives up to its name and covers a wide range of command line topics (disclaimer). There are a lot of subtleties with how the bash shell behaves that are more clear to me after reading this book. I didn’t learn as much as I did from How Linux Works (review), but I wish I’d read The Linux Command Line when I first starting working with linux systems.

The last part of the book deals with writing shell scripts and covers more about shell scripting than I ever wanted to know. Reading and writing nontrivial shell scripts is sometimes a reality, so overall it was good to pick up a few useful tips and tricks along with a generally increased understanding of bash programming.

Book review: How Linux Works

How Linux Works: What Every Superuser Should Know is an excellent book that gives a well organized introduction to what’s going on behind the scenes of a linux system (disclaimer). While doing data science I learned linux piece by piece, after reading this book I was able to better understand how all the pieces fit together. I also learned a lot about subjects I hadn’t really touched, for example how the network stack translates information to and from physical bits on a wire.

Most data science happens on linux or unix based systems. Just as knowing a lot about farming will help make you a better chef, knowing a lot about linux will make you a better data scientist. Since I work at a small startup my role often extends from data science to data engineering to operations support for data science and engineering to general operations support. Reading How Linux Works helped make me more effective at all of these roles.

Book review: Black Hat Python

Black Hat Python: Python Programming for Hackers and Pentesters is worth a quick read to learn a bit about avenues of attack on networks and web services (disclaimer). The second half of the book is largely devoted to attacks on windows machines which is less useful to me professionally but still interesting.

As a data scientist I sometimes expose data through web interfaces and it’s important to understand how a malicious user might try to exploit a system to access its data or take down the service.

Book review: Think Bayes

Think Bayes is a rare book that isn’t specifically about Python or a Python library but still contains excellent, well organized python code (disclaimer). Think Bayes covers using Bayesian Statistics to calculate probabilities and better understand real problems drawing from a range of real data sets. I definitely recommend that any scientist (and especially any data scientist) read this book, it’s available for free here.